What is Cloud Data Storage and How Does it Work?

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    The volume of data available to businesses has grown exponentially in recent years. 47% of enterprises now cite data growth as one of their top three challenges, and the world’s data storage requirements look set to continue growing at 40% every year.1

    With the amount of data available to them increasing, organisations are looking for better storage solutions. The increased use of data analytics to inform business decision-making processes also means that businesses are looking to:

    • Increase their storage capacity
    • Effectively manage their storage costs
    • Move beyond using data centres

    Cloud data storage is a solution many organisations are now turning to, and those that do not are missing out on a cost-effective and scalable way to store data. However, to access these benefits and ensure an effective solution, organisations also need to consider cloud disaster recovery best practices.

    Today we’re going to explore what cloud-based data storage is, how it works and how it can help your organisation. Let’s dive in.

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    What is cloud storage?

    Sometimes referred to as a virtual hard drive, cloud storage is a web-based data storage model where files are stored on virtual servers. These storage systems are hosted, maintained and operated by providers utilising cloud computing technologies, and these providers offer a variety of storage resources users can purchase as needed.

    By utilising cloud storage, users can access their data from any location at any time — as long as they have an internet connection. This flexibility makes cloud storage an attractive option for businesses that need to store large amounts of data. 

    On top of all that, cloud storage is often more reliable and secure than traditional file storage methods, providing long-term benefits for users who select a reputable and reliable service provider.

    How does cloud storage work?

    Cloud storage essentially functions as a virtual data centre. The service provides users with a storage infrastructure that stores data, allowing users to access files over the internet.

    Let’s take a closer look at the key components of how cloud storage actually works:

      • Web-Based API: Storage is accessed via a web-based API that is implemented remotely. The advantage of this type of storage is that it can be scaled to the application’s needs. If you suddenly decide that you need more storage capacity, you can add more.
    • Support for multiple file types: In most cases, cloud storage services support multiple file types of all sizes. This means you can store everything from photos and videos to documents and music in the cloud. Because your files are stored remotely, you don’t have to worry about taking up precious space on other devices like smartphones or tablets — files can then be synced with these devices so you can access them while on the go.
    • Pay for the space you need: Cloud storage is a cost-effective way to scale storage as business needs evolve. With on-premises storage, you have to buy and maintain expensive servers, even when you’re not using all of their capacity. With cloud storage, you only pay for the space occupied by your data in the cloud.

    Types of cloud storage

    When it comes to storing data in the cloud, businesses have a number of different options to choose from. The most commonly implemented services are public and private cloud, although there are other options, such as hybrid and community cloud storage. And each of these options has its own advantages, disadvantages, and use cases.

    Private cloud storage

    Private cloud hosting is the model organisations use to store data on their servers. Here, data is only accessible to employees of the company storing the data, and that company also has complete control over their data. The downside is that it can be more expensive than other methods, and often requires more maintenance.

    Public cloud storage

    Public cloud storage is when data is stored on servers that a third-party provider owns, providing easy access to anyone who has the correct login information. The advantage of public cloud storage is that it’s usually less expensive than other methods, but the data isn’t as secure due to the fact that it’s stored off-site.

    Hybrid cloud storage

    Hybrid cloud storage is a combination of private and public cloud storage where data is stored on the company’s servers and on a third-party server. This allows businesses to choose the information they want to keep confidential and what they want to make publicly available.

    Community cloud storage

    Community cloud storage offers specific communities and businesses cloud solutions. It’s a variation of the private storage model, in which cloud storage providers offer specific tools to meet a community’s needs, including unique development tools or other necessary software. Community cloud storage is an excellent option for companies that require strict compliance policies, such as legal or financial organisations.

    The benefits of cloud storage

    Whichever type of cloud storage an organisation decides to utilise there is a wide range of benefits on offer, which is why it’s becoming increasingly popular across the business landscape. The most prominent of these include:

    • Flexibility: One of the best things about cloud storage is its flexibility. You can store as much or as little data as you want and access it anywhere. This is perfect for businesses that need to store large amounts of data but don’t have the space to do so on their premises.
    • Remote Support: Cloud storage providers often offer customer support if users have questions or problems, and issues can be troubleshot by IT teams who don’t have to be onsite.
    • Scalability: The storage infrastructure of cloud storage providers can be scaled up or down as needed, making it easy to adjust to changes in storage requirements. This can be a significant advantage for organisations with fluctuating storage needs and those who are growing rapidly and need to scale their storage capacity quickly.
    • Security: Cloud storage providers typically have strong security measures, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication. This can help to protect sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorised individuals. In addition, cloud storage providers often have disaster recovery plans in place which ensure that data is still accessible following downtime or a natural disaster.
    • Cost-efficiency: Organisations can reduce their overall IT costs by moving to the cloud. With on-premises infrastructure, organisations have to pay for the upfront cost of hardware, as well as the ongoing costs of maintenance and support. In addition, they often need to hire staff with specialised knowledge to manage their infrastructure. By contrast, cloud providers handle all of the underlying infrastructures, making it much easier and more cost-effective for organisations to scale their storage capacity as needed.

    Embrace cloud data storage today

    The cloud and data storage more generally are rapidly evolving, especially given the increasing focus organisations are placing on the security of their data. As a result, choosing the right cloud storage provider is pivotal for businesses, who also need to consider a range of other factors when making their decision, including:

    • Storage space
    • Maintenance and uptime

    At Nexstor, we’re here to make the process of outsourcing data storage smooth and painless, helping you focus on what you do best — providing a high-quality service to your customers. Our team can support you in defining your specific requirements all the way through to migration.

    Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you find a data storage solution that meets your needs.

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    Rob Townsend

    Rob is a co-founder at Nexstor and has dedicated his career to helping a range of organisations from SME to Enterprise to get ahead of the game when it comes to their compute, storage and data needs.

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