What to Look for in a Cloud Storage Provider

By CIOReview | Tuesday, June 21, 2016
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In an effort to save space, many businesses are trading  in their big and bulky file cabinets for storage space in  the cloud. However, with so many online storage  providers, figuring out which one will best fill your needs  can be a difficult task. 

Cloud: The New Frontier of Arcading Data

According to Forrester Research, the public cloud market is estimated to reach $191 billion by 2020, a significant climb from 2013’s total of $58 billion. Forrester asserts that cloud applications will lead this growth, achieving approximately $133 billion in revenue by 2020. Cloud platforms will follow, generating an estimated $44 billion in revenue, and cloud business services will amount to approximately $14 billion in revenue by this time. This is further validated by Gartner, Inc. which named cloud as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015 that will have a significant impact on organizations during the next three years.

It’s clear from such estimates that cloud will have a major role in delivering business services in the future and will continue to support business transformation and drive the evolution in business models. In an effort to save time and space, most organizations are investing heavily in cloud technology. However, with so many cloud storage providers, figuring out the best is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Conference rooms of organizations worldwide reverberate with different queries of the IT departments in the process of evaluating their organization’s entry into the cloud. Armed with media reports and statistics, they are pondering on questions such as, “Will the cloud really save time and money? Does the cloud pose a security risk?” What are the considerations to be made before choosing a cloud storage provider?

Let’s discuss!

Picking the Right Cloud Storage Provider

Although organizations consider every major point before considering this new frontier for arcading data, they all make a common mistake! There’s no such thing as ‘the cloud’. Instead, there are multiple clouds, with different configurations, offered by different providers and representing different degrees of benefit and risk. Thus, leveraging cloud must not be a “yes/no” decision, instead it must be a “how, when, and which” decision. Every specific challenge that cloud poses must be considered. Your IT personnel need to consider when and in what order to migrate workloads and processes to a cloud environment. And lastly, as an organization you need to carefully evaluate which provider offers the most robust and flexible cloud portfolio to meet your current and long-term needs. In a service market full of Cloud storage providers and vendors, it is important that you understand how well a particular provider meets your needs. Here are some considerations that you can explore:

  • Interoperability across environments

There are various dynamic environments in your organization such as Workload sensitivity, business continuity and disaster recovery plans, that operate analogously. You must look for a cloud storage provider that offers full interoperability across any environment. For that, the vendor you choose must create a single virtual data center with full interoperability across all the environments that you can currently or may in the future rely on.

  • Flexibility to Appropriately Support Different Workloads

Only storing data is not enough, you must make sure that the storage provider you opt for, enables not only a range of data center environments, but also a range of configurations for each. Each of your business applications come with different requirements for performance and security. IT needs to build an environment that supports the right configurations for each application’s workload and associated data.

  • Vendor Support

Usually, organizations are responsible for uploading, storing, and managing data in the cloud themselves. Although, most of the vendors provide self-service support tools, such as an online library or a customer forum, many vendors offer little or no live access to experts. Adoption of any new technology will require some degree of expert technical assistance. So, be sure your Cloud storage vendor has the expertise to provide guidance as you embark on your cloud journey.

  • Security Mechanism

Most organizations site security as the top concern about the cloud. IT decision-makers consider cloud to be riskier than their private data centers as the perceived risk premium of losing the stored data is 50 percent. You must understand about the services that the cloud provider is willing to offer when it comes to security. Insist on security certifications, encryptions, and meaningful SLAs. Be sure that the SLA contains the provisions that address potential data losses.

  • Downtime History

Even the biggest, best-known cloud providers occasionally experience downtime. Amazon Web Services recently thrust into the spotlight after its cloud services suffered an overnight outage that took down a handful of popular sites. This is where your media research and analysis results will help you. It's best to choose a provider with as minimum downtime as possible.

  • SLA terms and executions

During the evaluation of a prospective cloud storage provider, all the service offered must be scrutinized as a whole. This ensures that a performance, availability and reliability level of the cloud meets the demands of your business. It must be carefully evaluated as to what performance metrics must be included in the SLA, and what is the appropriate compensation if they are missed by the vendor.

Conclusion

Technology has always played the role of a disruptive force that somehow connects discontinuities and changes business models, ecosystems, or even the world order. The Cloud is another such technological phenomenon that has stirred up interests and investments in many parts of the world. But organizations must remember that cloud is not a single entity; nor do all enterprises have identical needs. As a result, different pathways for cloud model needs to be developed by each enterprise. The workload, its inherit qualities, available resources, and regulatory factors must also be careful considered. Enterprises must seek a strong foundation for its cloud to deliver tomorrow’s IT services to users, quickly, securely, and with highest availability and performance. That requires partnering with a cloud solution provider with a broad range of integrated services and the expertise to guide your organization along the future endeavors.