What Are Cloud-Based Storage Systems?
Cloud Storage is a method of storing computer data that involves digital data stored on servers in off-site locations. A third-party provider is in charge of maintaining, hosting, and securing data stored on its infrastructure. The provider ensures that data on its servers is always accessible via public or private internet connections.
Cloud-Based Storage Systems is a scalable, cost-effective solution for organizations. It caters to those needing high data availability without managing data centers. It permits organizations to store, access, and maintain data securely. They avoid the need to manage physical infrastructure.
In this article, we’ll delve into cloud-based storage systems. We’ll examine their types, advantages, disadvantages, and organizational use cases.
How Do Cloud-Based Storage Systems Work?
Cloud-based storage systems, also known as Cloud Storage, utilize remote servers for storing data. This data can include files, business data, videos, and images. Users can upload data to servers via an internet connection. The servers save it on a virtual machine on a physical server. To ensure availability and redundancy, cloud providers distribute the data across multiple virtual machines. These machines are in data centers worldwide. If the storage needs increase, the cloud provider adds more virtual machines to handle the load. Users can access data in Cloud Storage through an internet connection and software such as a web portal, browser, or mobile app via an application programming interface (API).
Types of Cloud-based Storage Systems
Cloud Storage is available in four different models:
- Public Cloud Storage: In this model, an organization stores data in data centers provided by a service provider, which other companies also use. Public Cloud Storage spreads data across multiple regions and is typically available on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. It is considered “elastic,” allowing organizations to scale the data storage up or down based on their needs. Public cloud providers typically make data available from any device such as a smartphone or web portal.
- Private Cloud Storage: This model involves an organization utilizing its own servers and data centers to store data within their own network. Alternatively, organizations can engage with cloud service providers to obtain dedicated servers and private connections that no other organization shares. Private clouds are typically used by organizations needing more control over their data and having strict compliance and security requirements.
- Hybrid Cloud Storage: A hybrid cloud model is a mix of private and public cloud storage models. A hybrid cloud storage model allows organizations to decide which data it wants to store in which cloud. Organizations may store sensitive data and data subject to strict compliance requirements in a private cloud. Less sensitive data is kept in the public cloud. A hybrid cloud storage model typically has a layer of orchestration to integrate between the two clouds. A hybrid cloud offers flexibility and allows organizations to still scale up with the public cloud if need arises.
- Multicloud Storage: A multicloud storage model is when an organization sets up more than one cloud model from more than one cloud service provider (public or private). Organizations might choose a multicloud model if one cloud vendor offers specific proprietary apps or if they need to store data in a particular country. They may also opt for a multicloud approach if various teams are trained on different clouds or if the organization has to meet requirements not stated in the service providers’ Service Level Agreements. A multicloud model offers organizations flexibility and redundancy.
Advantages of Cloud-based Storage Systems
- Total cost of ownership: Cloud Storage enables organizations to move from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure model, allowing them to adjust budgets and resources quickly.
- Elasticity: Cloud Storage is elastic and scalable, meaning organizations can scale it up (add more storage) or down (reduce storage) based on their needs.
- Flexibility: Cloud Storage offers organizations flexibility on how to store and access data, deploy and budget resources, and architect their IT infrastructure.
- Security: Most cloud providers offer robust security, including physical security at data centers and cutting-edge security at the software and application levels. The best cloud providers offer zero trust architecture, identity and access management, and encryption.
- Sustainability: One of the greatest costs when operating on-premises data centers is the overhead of energy consumption. The best cloud providers operate on sustainable energy through renewable resources.
- Redundancy: Redundancy (replicating data on multiple servers in different locations) is an inherent trait in public clouds, allowing organizations to recover from disasters while maintaining business continuity.
Disadvantages of Cloud-based Storage Systems
- Compliance: Certain industries, like finance and healthcare, impose stringent requirements on how data is stored and accessed. Some public cloud providers offer tools to maintain compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
- Latency: Network traffic congestion or slow internet connections can cause delays in traffic to and from the cloud.
- Control: Storing data in public clouds relinquishes some control over access and management of that data, entrusting that the cloud service provider will always be able to make that data available and maintain its systems and security.
- Outages: While public cloud providers aim to ensure continuous availability, outages sometimes do occur, making stored data unavailable.
Use Cases for Cloud-based Storage Systems
Cloud Storage provides several use cases for individuals and organizations. Here are some of the most common use cases:
- Backup: The simplest and most prominent use of Cloud Storage is data backup. Data backup through Cloud Storage can be as simple as saving files to a digital folder such as Google Drive or using block storage to maintain gigabytes or more of important business data.
- Archiving: As organizations move to digitize decades of old records, and hold on to records for governance and compliance purposes, the ability to archive old data has become an important aspect of Cloud Storage.
- Disaster Recovery: Cloud Storage allows for disaster recovery so that organizations can continue with their business even when times are tough.
- Data Processing: Cloud Storage makes digital data readily available, so data processing, such as analyzing data for business intelligence or applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to large datasets, is possible.
- Content Delivery: Cloud Storage makes it possible to serve the audience low-latency, always available-instantly accessible media and data content from servers dispersed across the world.
Types of Cloud-based Storage Systems
Cloud Storage comes in three different types:
- Object storage is a data storage architecture for large stores of unstructured data. It designates each piece of data as an object, keeps it in a separate storehouse and bundles it with metadata and a unique identifier for easy access and retrieval.
- File storage organizes data into a hierarchical format of files and folders. It streamlines the process of finding and retrieving individual data items when they are needed and is a common choice in directories and data repositories.
- Block storage breaks data into blocks, each with a unique identifier. It stores those blocks as separate pieces on the server. Block storage is particularly suitable for large volumes of data. It is ideal for workloads that require low latency and rely on high performance, such as databases.
Cloud-based storage systems offer many benefits over traditional storage solutions. They offer flexible, scalable, secure, and cost-effective solutions for organizations of all sizes, across many industries. Cloud storage is rapidly evolving, and several new features, functionalities, and use cases are being added regularly. Therefore, organizations must stay up to date with the latest developments and evaluate whether cloud storage is right for their specific needs.