Cave paintings and clay balls may have been the first ‘technologies’ for storing data for future reference. Then, after a couple thousand years of relying on paper, the world of data storage kicked into gear when IBM invented the hard disk in 1956 and the floppy in 1971.
From these humble beginnings, we now find ourselves awash in data. A commonly cited reference is that 90 percent all the data that exists in the world today was generated in the past two years. Of course it’s not just data. It’s data in flight, at rest, disparate, BIG, personal, regulated, corrupt, lost or stolen, latent, hierarchical, available, accessible, obsolete, de-duplicated, encrypted, critical, secret, real time, crunched and massaged. Who wouldn’t want a massage after being crunched?
It’s complex and getting more so as we get better at collecting data from practically everywhere and extracting actionable intelligence from galaxies of zeroes and ones. As we know, the value of data is in the analytics and not in the collecting per se. Collecting, storing and managing data are a necessary inconvenience that must be done securely and exceptionally well, lest the analytics and application of data suffer (not to mention the company’s reputation and standing with regulators). The corollary is that performing the mechanics well is expensive, time-consuming and, most importantly, a distraction and diversion of resources from mining data stores for all they’re worth.
Data has attained an elevated status, a critical corporate asset that drives growth and profitability. To accomplish that it must be constantly protected and actively managed. Cloud storage services can help with the protection and management, as well as availability, giving the data owner more time to focus on business applications.
The spiraling volumes and increasing stewardship that data demands has led many to cloud-based storage for its limitless scalability and its cost effectiveness in terms of hardware, infrastructure, availability and staffing. Small- and mid-size businesses (SMBs) recognized these advantages long ago.
Data security in the cloud, while still a sticking point for some, is becoming less of a concern as the industry continues its maturation process. Some providers are taking the extra steps to make security and compliance core competitive differentiators. For example, SSAE 16-audited data centers can help customers meet the requirements of regulatory compliance acts such as Sarbanes Oxley (SOX), HIPAA/HITECH, PCI DSS and Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLBA).
Ideally, a cloud data storage provider is close to being a one-stop shop. Data storage needs and services will change over time, and chasing capabilities from one provider to another will be disruptive.
Since all data is not equal, for example, a provider should offer multiple data service tiers, such as capacity disk storage, high performance storage and levels in between . Redundancy of critical components and systems such as storage controllers, multiple hot spares and redundant power supplies will ensure availability. Securing your data through access controls and network traffic segmentation means that your data will be seen only by authorized users.
Cloud technology is often used for data back-up. Whether it’s electronic or physical off-site back-up, on-site back-up, cloud-to-cloud data replication or something else, look for the provider that will configure your solution, not force-fit you into one of theirs.
Protecting mission-critical data, minimizing opportunities for data loss and maintaining data access levels matched to business needs now and in the future require a provider with a complete and flexible suite of managed data services. Having options such as colocation , disaster recovery services, intrusion detection and prevention and other cloud offerings provide additional peace of mind; they’re there if you need them.