Nearly seven in 10 IT decision makers surveyed in a recent study have either adopted enterprise cloud storage (28 percent) or plan to do so within the next year (40 percent). A separate study found that the same percentage of respondents has deployed (28 percent) or plans to deploy (40 percent) hybrid cloud storage within the next year.
However, the publishers of the first study reported confusion about the term “cloud storage” among survey respondents. For example, consumer-grade file sharing and synchronization platforms such as Dropbox and OneDrive were referred to as cloud storage. Consumer-grade tools are designed for individual users and typically don’t meet the security and compliance standards required by enterprises. Respondents also said that the storage included with Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365 fell into the category of cloud storage, even though those services do not fit within the general-purpose storage capacity envisioned by the study.
What Is Enterprise Cloud Storage?
Enterprise cloud storage refers to a model in which logical pools of storage capacity are purchased from a cloud service provider. The storage resources are managed and maintained by the service provider, and offer virtually infinite scalability. A related concept is the cloud storage gateway, which uses a hardware- or software-based appliance to simplify connectivity between local applications and file services and cloud storage resources.
Because data is constantly being generated by enterprise applications, desktop and mobile devices, corporate assets, sensors and other sources, the virtually unlimited capacity of enterprise cloud storage is an increasingly attractive option for organizations looking to efficiently manage ever-increasing data volumes. Continually adding storage hardware to on-premises infrastructure brings cost and complexity that even large enterprises cannot sustain.
Use Cases for Enterprise Cloud Storage
The most common driver for enterprise cloud storage adoption is data backup. The cloud not only provides an additional copy of data, but makes organizations more resilient to disaster because data is backed up to a remote location. The cloud also provides a cost-efficient platform for data archival. Because much of this data will rarely if ever be accessed again, the performance deficits of cloud access do not come into play.
It’s important to note, however, that performance improvements have made the cloud a viable option for primary storage of application data. Enterprise cloud storage is also used for content distribution, web infrastructure, and application development and testing.
When the Cloud Is Not an Option
There is some data that cannot be moved to the cloud, particularly for organizations in highly regulated industries. For example, financial data, certain customer records and patient information are subject to security, data governance and compliance rules that place limitations on where the data can be stored and who can access it. Those requirements generally preclude the use of public cloud storage.
Because not all data can be migrated to enterprise cloud storage, many organizations are looking at a hybrid approach in which data is stored both on-premises and in the cloud and can move between the two platforms. In the next post, we’ll discuss why you should consider hybrid storage, how to take full advantage of enterprise cloud storage, and what to look for in a cloud storage provider.