The Importance of Data

Data has now become the one of the most valuable business assets. The amount of data being collected has increased significantly because of the digital transformation. Data can be used to curate and provide actionable insight for every business. The insights and applicability of data can be administered at any level of an organisation, and more importantly, business and IT decision makers are aware of the importance of data management to their business’ success.

Successful data storage solutions focus on showing users how data is generated, and ways they can manage and consume the data within the organisation. Creating insights that can be leveraged to deliver solutions that are cohesive for any business. It can have a transformational impact on an organisation, such as increasing its revenue streams and producing higher levels of productivity.

What is Cloud storage?

Cloud storage is a computing model in which digital data is stored on off-site storage systems, otherwise known as ‘remote servers’, and is accessed from the internet. Internet access provides the connection between the computer and the database, and the storage systems are usually maintained by a third party. As you will find out further along in this article, it is not always maintained by a third party and an ‘off-site’ storage system is relative, as we are discussing storage solutions that no longer need to be physically inserted into a computer.

Data pipelines have to scale to accommodate the vast amounts of inflow data. Traditionally this would have been done by investing more money into a company’s IT infrastructure; however, it became evident that this solution was no longer ideal as the data was growing faster than IT budgets. Not only was scaling an internal IT infrastructure more expensive, but it also required more space for the growing need for data centres.

In order to solve this problem, Cloud storage became the most practical solution. Cloud storage offers many considerable benefits, one of which includes, its cost-effective technology that makes it possible to collect and store nearly unlimited amounts of any data. Its ease of use and scalability has made it an attractive prospect for companies to consider when scaling their data storage management solutions.

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More and more businesses are transitioning to Cloud storage solutions as it offers greater flexibility, reliable data availability, backup and recovery. Read on to find out about the three main types of Cloud storage solutions.

Public Cloud

If an organisation decides to choose to store their data on a public cloud, it means that the data is stored in the providers’ data centre and the third party provider is responsible for the management and maintenance of that specific public cloud hosting solution.  Smaller businesses usually opt for storing their data on a public cloud as it is more affordable, and the transition to deploying the use of cloud solutions for data storage is very efficient – as they don’t have to wait for customisations to be made, and can work straight away using a standard version of the public cloud.

Cloud storage systems implement redundancy techniques to reduce risk; this is generally done by storing the same data on multiple machines, meaning that clients can access their data requests anytime and anywhere. Most cloud storage providers also use different power supplies on different servers that store the same data, this way, should one of the power supplies fail, there will still be another server with the duplicate data; ensuring that the chances of outages are close to none.

One of the main concerns companies have with using a public cloud solution is that they feel that security could be lacking. However, all the data remains separate from each other and security breaches of public clouds are very rare. Not only are all cloud storage solutions password protected, but other security measures such as encryptions, firewalls, authorisation and intrusion detection are put in place to ensure all data is protected and secure. Physical security is another measure of security that most certified cloud data centres implement; this includes 24-hour monitoring, fingerprint locks and security guards. These data centres are usually more secure than almost all on-site data centres.

Public cloud solutions offer accessibility and security, and it best suited for unstructured data, like files in folders. The downside for organisations using public cloud storage solutions is there is not a great deal of customisation that can be done, so it will not always be a sophisticated solution that is suited for their business.

Private cloud

Private cloud data storage is an on-premise solution. The cloud network resides on the company’s intranet or hosted data centre where all of the data is protected behind a firewall. It is also known as an internal or enterprise cloud. This option is suitable for organisations that already have an established IT infrastructure and data centres, as they maintain control and management of the physical hardware – which the private cloud is set up on.

Although the sense of control and the autonomy of the private cloud potentially being a beneficial advantage for them, it does come with a drawback, as all the management, maintenance and updating of the data centres is the organisations’ responsibility, and it is a very time and resource consuming task. Over-time the servers will eventually need to be replaced, which can be a costly endeavour.

However, private clouds offer a higher level of security as it can be customised to suit the organisation’s specifications. This is the reason why most large companies choose a private cloud option for their data storage solution, as the organisation has unlimited control over the system. Security measures such as, advanced authorisation and authentication can be put in place to control who has access to what, on their cloud data network.

For example, the company private cloud network can be customised so that every employee needs to create a username and password to access the data. This can coincide with event logging to reduce the risk of potential breaches and threats. For more confidential access to data, they may choose to have a 2 step authentication process, to instigate a higher level of security.

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Expanding on the flexibility of the customisation aspect of using a private cloud, during the initial set up, executives can control who they allow access to specific files and data. The access can be limited across the different levels in an organisation; for example, a junior manager will have restricted access to parts of the data compared to the HR Manager. Should there be an attempt for an unauthorised person to access restricted data, notifications can be set up and sent to the relevant persons in the organisation.  

Hybrid cloud

As the demand for the use of cloud data storage increased over the years, there was a need to innovate to create a solution that would incorporate the advantages of a private and public cloud solution. Solutions such as IBM Storage were designed so that organisations had the option to choose to keep high-volume files on the public cloud and sensitive data on a private cloud. This hybrid approach strikes a balance between affordability and customisation, so caters for the concerns of both big and small organisations.

The hybrid cloud approach provides smart data storage management and protection for multi-cloud environments. The hybrid model system allows organisations to build their IT infrastructure without limitations, and they can engineer their data storage management to suit their business needs. This solution delivers the economic simplicity of the public cloud with the accessibility, security and performance incorporations of a private cloud system.

Watch the video below for an introduction to Hybrid Cloud Data Solutions:

Applicability for businesses

More and more companies are looking to invest in cloud data storage management as they believe it is a critical component in delivering intelligent data management. To obtain the full value of this shift into digital investments; organisations must ensure that their data is protected and that the people they employ are trained on how to use the new technologies. A company’s digital transformation relies on its employees, making the best use of new technologies — which is why the capabilities of an organisation’s employees, are another critical competency for becoming a more intelligent business.

Businesses are clearly recognising the advantages of a cloud-based approach for their data storage; it allows them to respond instantly and appropriately, anywhere and anytime regarding anything that occurs within their business. The reliability, flexibility, data security and disaster recovery aspects of using cloud storage have made it an appealing option for many decision makers within a business.  

Moreover, the efficiency of deploying a cloud-based data storage solution across their business function will be more cost-effective in the long run. Most cloud providers charge the users on a monthly rolling basis so that costs can be spread out, and traditional investments into physical hardware can be reduced.

Data is the future. With cloud technology continuously being an area which is steadily growing and innovating, organisations need to maximise their investments and adequately research to optimise their chances of having a competitive advantage.