Determining the best data storage method is one of the most important issues a company must resolve. And that data is much more than mere information. Today’s organizations rely on their proprietary data assets to make critical business decisions, utilizing powerful algorithms to derive invaluable insights from the unstructured data they’ve gathered from customers, researchers, and competitors. Determining where to store that data can be a daunting challenge. To make the best decision, companies need to weigh the benefits of on-premises vs off-premises solutions and various cloud-based options.
Organizations gather data from multiple sources, and their ability to collect that information is only increasing thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) devices and social media apps. All of that data has to be stored in ways that are both secure and accessible. Data storage refers to any number of ways that physical recording media are used to retain information read by computer systems so that it can be retrieved when needed. Storage technology has changed significantly throughout the history of computing, ranging from the magnetic drums of room-sized mainframe computers to the latest innovations in solid state drives (SSDs).
Data plays a critical role in the way modern companies make business decisions, engage with customers, and develop new products and services. In order to use all of that data, however, they need a way to store it in ways that are convenient to manage and access. They must also be sure to protect their storage solution from cyberattack and put redundancies in place to ensure that data isn’t lost, damaged, inaccessible due to system downtime. Their data storage systems could incorporate a number of data storage devices or units, but whatever solution is implemented needs to be aligned with the needs and capabilities of the organization’s computing network.
One might call this the original data storage method, an on-premises data solution typically involves servers that are owned and managed by the organization itself. For larger companies, these servers could be located in a private data center facility, but in many cases, they consist of a handful of machines located in an office’s dedicated data room (or in some cases, “closet”). Whatever form it takes, the defining aspect of an on-premises solution is that the data’s owner takes full responsibility for building and overseeing the IT infrastructure that stores it. This deployment provides the greatest amount of control an organization can have over its network and data, but at the not insignificant cost of having to manage every aspect of it. Outdated equipment needs to be replaced, software needs to be patched and updated, and access protocols need to be strictly regulated. For many companies, full control over data and network architecture isn’t worth the expense of setting up and operating an on-premises solution.
While many organizations like the idea of storing their valuable data on equipment that they own and control, they don’t want to deal with the ongoing hassle of managing that equipment. Power and cooling needs can be difficult to accommodate on a regular basis, and implementing new services or features into an IT infrastructure can be challenging and time-consuming if they’re handled internally. By colocating equipment off-premises with a data center, companies can gain the benefits of a data center’s versatility and services while still retaining complete control over their data. Rather than dealing with variable operating costs, colocation customers benefit from predictable pricing for power and cooling. The connectivity options of data centers allow them to easily incorporate new features into their network infrastructure while the robust security and compliance protocols of a data center environment provide protections that might be more difficult for a company to implement in-house. When remote hands support is added to the mix to address a company’s IT needs 24x7x365, colocation offers an outstanding data storage method for many companies.
For many small to medium-sized companies, there may not be much sense in investing in expensive hardware to store data. Migrating the whole of their data operations to a public cloud provider, whether through a lift and shift strategy or a more specialized migration, can deliver tremendous versatility and other benefits. Public cloud solutions are usually quite scalable, making it easy to provision more storage or computing resources as they’re needed. The easy access of the cloud also allows employees to utilize data from almost anywhere, which is a huge benefit for organizations with remote workforces. Public cloud architectures also empower edge computing strategies used by companies in the internet of things (IoT) market, helping them to extend their network reach into otherwise difficult to access areas and minimize latency.
Cloud storage solutions aren’t without drawbacks, however. While public clouds take security seriously, the open nature of the environment makes it difficult to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. For companies that can’t afford to take risks, private cloud deployments implemented through a virtualized data center offer much greater levels of security, especially when coupled with encryption protocols. In many ways, private clouds are a form of colocation, only no hardware is involved. Virtualized servers can offer companies all the benefits of physical equipment while being much easier to maintain. New approaches to network architecture, such as hybrid and multi-clouds, can store sensitive data in secure private clouds while still taking advantage of the computing power of public cloud services.
With data security and availability more important than ever, organizations must make the most informed decisions possible when evaluating data storage methods. By examining their needs and future goals, they can implement data infrastructure solutions that allow them to make the most of their data and ensure that it continues to drive positive business results.