Data storage in the cloud: 5 ways to make it faster and cheaper

The way cloud computing is becoming ubiquitous and major vendors like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are competing to stay ahead, it is safe to say that cloud-based services will get more accessible and cheaper to use. In the next few years, not just organizations or the government but numerous smaller businesses and individuals are also expected to adopt the cloud. In such a situation, it becomes important to understand the basic factors that decide the cost and the performance factors for any application you wish to host in the cloud. To help you decide upon the right option, the key factors are explained here, which will help you make the right choice for faster and cheaper data storage in the cloud.

Right cloud data storage architecture for your application

The main elements that work together to form the fundamental architecture of the cloud suitable for any application are the frontend, the backend platforms, applications, databases, and software capabilities. Different cloud types, namely private, public, hybrid, and multicloud, have different combinations and user-controls making them suitable for different needs. For example, a public cloud is highly scalable, cost-effective, and highly reliable. In contrast, a private cloud is a bit expensive but provides better security and customization. A hybrid offers a combination of public and private cloud solutions into unique cloud storage, while multicloud offers multiple public cloud services in a single heterogeneous architecture.

A business can have unique requirements for hosting its applications, so it is important to understand their requirements first. Then based on requirements and budget, a business can identify the right cloud data storage architecture that could deliver storage on demand in a scalable way.

Cloud storage based on the type of application

Again, since businesses have different needs and offer various kinds of services to their customers, the nature of their files or data will also be different. For example, an enterprise that offers a streaming service may have a vast amount of media data, so it would probably need large volumes of storage and high bandwidth support.

After choosing the right architecture (public, private, or hybrid), you need to understand how the data will be stored, which can be defined and understood in three levels as file, block, and object-based storage. File-based storage refers to the storage of an individual file (document or spreadsheets) as a single entity. It can be used by applications that often need shared access to files and require a file system. It works well for organizing data in a simple, arranged and accessible platform. The block-level storage is used in SAN (storage area network) architectures, and it refers to an individual block of raw storage data. This format is convenient for enterprise applications like databases or ERP systems. Object-based storage is useful to solve the unorganized data such as videos, audio, photos, and scanned images. It is suitable for building modern applications from scratch that requires scale and flexibility. Selecting the right storage can help improve the performance of the application.

Choose suitable cloud economics according to your need

Some examples of data storage solutions provided by cloud vendors are Azure Storage and Amazon S3. You can get the required amount of storage capacity and other features by paying a monthly or annual subscription fee. For such subscription-based services, public cloud options are often considered economical, but some enterprises are cautious of using them because the stored data is sent outside of their network premises. So, in case the privacy of the stored data is a major concern, the organization can choose a private cloud, where the management of data always remains within the premises of an enterprise’s network. Some organizations even use a hybrid cloud, in which some resources are handled in-house while others are provided to third-party cloud providers. Leading enterprise storage vendors who sell these types of services are Dell EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, IBM Elastic Storage Server, and Microsoft Azure Stack. There are many more to choose from.

How sensitive the data is (security vs. performance)

Another major concern of data storage in the cloud is security. Cloud offers a less-expensive alternative compared to expanding physical storage, but it also has security-related concerns. Organizations must tackle challenges like security and performance to prevent any data breach or compromise.

To protect such sensitive information, one straightforward option is using encryption. All data stored in the cloud is first encrypted so that in case any hacker gets access to any sensitive data, they won’t be able to misuse that data without knowing the correct decryption key. But this method has its own concerns — choosing an outdated algorithm like MD5 over reliable encryption (SHA 3) may doom the entire effort. Also, it impacts the performance of your application, as encryption may slow down the transfer rates if the volume of data is high.

Another major factor is the high availability of data, which can be ensured by opting for georedundancy (physical separation of datacenters between geographic locations). This can ensure that your application will always be available, but this increases the overall cost and network complexity of the system. Also, when opting for this, IT teams should make sure they consider the issues related to regulatory compliance, administration, and cost. Organizations should also consider several factors like latency, performance, and resiliency requirements before making such investments.

Additional configuration options to consider

There are many other factors you should look for with your cloud storage, such as automated upload and sync of data, auto-scaling options, or capping/notifications for max limits. Having auto-upload enabled may result in increased storage cost or may exhaust your existing data storage limit quickly. You also need to consider if your application requires auto-scaling of storage capacity (for example, automated subscription of extra storage spaces as soon as it reaches existing capacity). Turning on this feature by default may be a very convenient and hassle-free option for your application, but it may easily lead to high operational budgets. Setting up alerts or notification when storage reaches a threshold capacity gives you ample time to consider whether to expand capacity or clean up existing data and create additional storage space.

Besides the above-mentioned visible factors, there are several additional factors to look for, based on special needs. For example, your business requires holding a two-day online event with thousands of customers joining in or providing time-based discount schemes to your customers. Such events may result in a requirement of additional storage space for your applications to cater to the peak load of traffic. You must ensure that the selected cloud storage space provides support for these kinds of special requirements and that you’ve configured your resources appropriately.

Data storage in the cloud: Follow the trends

An unsuitable cloud can increase your expenditure or negatively impact the performance of your application. Cloud providers have many data storage services, and each one of them serves a different purpose. So, individuals or businesses should carefully analyze their business requirements and then opt for a suitable option. We have listed several considerations that can help you improve your data storage capabilities in the cloud, but awareness of the latest trends and offerings is surely a major factor to help you identify the fastest and cheapest option for your cloud storage.

Featured image: Pixabay

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