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Moving past data centers: Public cloud storage

June 2nd, 2014 by - 2,371 views

Managing data volume and storage using an in-house data center isn’t necessarily the cheapest endeavor. Between equipment maintenance and variable energy costs, obtaining information from these stores is pretty expensive and can weigh heavily on any IT department with less than a dozen people.

Data center employee works with a server.

Data center employee works with a server.

Scrutinizing categories
To reduce overhead costs, many organizations are choosing to invest in cloud storage, which allows companies to access intelligence more fluidly. According to IBM Systems magazine, there are three main categories of data enterprises handle on a regular basis:

1. Hot – information that’s needed most frequently and requires faster access
2. Warm – information that viewed fairly often and is stored on slightly slower storage
3. Cold – information that’s rarely accessed and can be stored on the slowest units

Traditionally, organizations have to factor in rack space, power supply energy requirements, redundancy, and recovery capabilities when prioritizing data center tasks. Certain algorithms are used to allocate workloads between servers to deliver higher performance. Each data category requires a different protocol and set of rules so that tasks can be managed efficiently.

Ascending into the cloud 
HostReview contributor Steve Jen noted that migrating data storage responsibilities to cloud servers eliminates much of the tediousness associated with in-house access and data processing. There are a few key reasons companies have decided to make this transition, the main one being a significant reduction in expenses. By moving to the cloud, IT departments can also realize other advantages such as eliminating the need to invest in tangible infrastructure like hard disks and cooling units or constantly maintaining those assets. By eliminating such administrative tasks, IT professionals can dedicate more time, energy, and resources to implementing business-changing applications, improving processes, and focusing on value-added services.

One of the most popular features of cloud computing is that it enables employees to access information when not in the office. This capability helps enterprises keep up with an increasingly mobile workforce, freeing staff from physical location and allowing them to build and maintain customer relationships on a more flexible schedule. In addition to viewing files from a home office, employees can store, collaborate, and synchronize documents and other data in near-real-time.

Cold data: Where does it belong? 
The cloud deployment model an organization chooses to hold its cold (rarely accessed) data depends on its operational model, data access needs, and security requirements. Dragon Slayer Consulting President and Founder Marc Staimer recently spoke with TechTarget about the differences between public and private cloud solutions. He said that one of the key factors companies should take into consideration is whether or not a hosting company will be able to adjust its solutions so that intelligence can be accessed and read by future technologies.

“If you’re looking at it from a public way, then you want to make sure the public provider is viable enough to be there in 30, 40, 50, 100 years,” Staimer told TechTarget. “In that case, you don’t have to worry about the technology.”

Staimer also advised business professionals to understand the fees imposed by cloud providers. For example, expenses will be lower if an enterprise simply pays to store its cold data in the cloud in comparison to its choice to access that information as well. Some providers’ service level agreements are becoming more flexible, however, offering discounts for organizations that obtain their cold data on an established, routine basis.

Whether it’s for cold, hot, or warm data, cloud storage offers businesses the opportunity to eliminate the human-related and monetary costs associated with in-house data warehousing processes, enabling them to focus on building and enhancing their core business.

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