What is Cloud Storage? | IBM

A variety of cloud storage services is available for just about every kind of business— anything from sole proprietor to large enterprises.

If you run a small business, cloud storage could make sense, particularly if you don’t have the resources or skills to manage storage yourself. Cloud storage can also help with budget planning by making storage costs predictable, and it gives you the ability to scale as the business grows.

If you work at a larger enterprise (e.g., a manufacturing company, financial services, or a retail chain with dozens of locations), you might need to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of data for storage on a regular basis. In these cases, you should work with an established cloud storage provider that can handle your volumes. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate custom deals with providers to get the best value.

Security

Cloud storage security is a serious concern, especially if your organization handles sensitive data like credit card information and medical records. You want assurances your data is protected from cyber threats with the most up-to-date methods available. You will want layered security solutions that include endpoint protection, content and email filtering and threat analysis, as well as best practices that comprise regular updates and patches. And you need well-defined access and authentication policies.

Most cloud storage providers offer baseline security measures that include access control, user authentication, and data encryption. Ensuring these measures are in place is especially important when the data in question involves confidential business files, personnel records, and intellectual property. Data subject to regulatory compliance may require added protection, so you need to check that your provider of choice complies with all applicable regulations.

Whenever data travels, it is vulnerable to security risks. You share the responsibility for securing data headed for a storage cloud. Companies can minimize risks by encrypting data in motion and using dedicated private connections (instead of the public internet) to connect with the cloud storage provider.

Backup

Data backup is as important as security. Businesses need to back up their data so they can access copies of files and applications— and prevent interruptions to business—if data is lost due to cyberattack, natural disaster, or human error.

Cloud-based data backup and recovery services have been popular from the early days of cloud-based solutions. Much like cloud storage itself, you access the service through the public internet or a private connection. Cloud backup and recovery services free organizations from the tasks involved in regularly replicating critical business data to make it readily available should you ever need it in the wake of data loss caused by a natural disaster, cyber attack or unintentional user error.

Cloud backup offers the same advantages to businesses as storage—cost-effectiveness, scalability, and easy access. One of the most attractive features of cloud backup is automation. Asking users to continually back up their own data produces mixed results since some users always put it off or forget to do it. This creates a situation where data loss is inevitable. With automated backups, you can decide how often to back up your data, be it daily, hourly or whenever new data is introduced to your network.

Backing up data off-premise in a cloud offers an added advantage: distance. A building struck by a natural disaster, terror attack, or some other calamity could lose its on-premise backup systems, making it impossible to recover lost data. Off-premise backup provides insurance against such an event.

Servers

Cloud storage servers are virtual servers—software-defined servers that emulate physical servers. A physical server can host multiple virtual servers, making it easier to provide cloud-based storage solutions to multiple customers. The use of virtual servers boosts efficiency because physical servers otherwise typically operate below capacity, which means some of their processing power is wasted.

This approach is what enables cloud storage providers to offer pay-as-you-go cloud storage, and to charge only for the storage capacity you consume. When your cloud storage servers are about to reach capacity, the cloud provider spins up another server to add capacity—or makes it possible for you to spin up an additional virtual machine on your own.

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