10 things to know about public cloud data storage

While touted for their ease-of-use, there's a lot to consider when deciding where to store your data

Public cloud storage providers tout their ease-of-use, low-cost and virtually unlimited storage capacity. Here are 10 things you should consider when using a public cloud to store your data. 

1. Parking your data is different than accessing your data. Those low prices per gigabyte (GB) per month for parking your data don’t reflect the additional charges you incur when touching your data. Avoid unpleasant surprises in your monthly bill. Understand your storage provider’s charges for accessing your data. 

2. Ending your business relationship with a storage provider can be expensive and difficult. If you call it quits with your storage provider you will have to pay to get your data back. It will also be time-consuming to move tens or hundreds of terabytes of data using your Internet connection. Find out if your storage provider has a bulk download service so you don’t spend the next year downloading your data.

3. Anticipate that your storage provider could shutter their service on short notice.  A storage provider who goes out-of-business could leave your data stranded in their storage cloud. Ask if the storage provider has an insurance policy or an escrow fund that will keep their storage service operating until customers move all their data. If not, then have a legal agreement with the storage provider that allows you or a designated third party to retrieve your data before they can shut down their storage servers.

4. Know where your data is stored in the public cloud. If you are required to know where your data is stored for regulatory compliance or governance reasons, make sure you are storing it in the proper geographic location. Even though the provider has physical control of your data, it is still your data, so pay attention to where you are keeping it.

5. Understand how storage providers protect data. Data stored in public clouds is not equally protected. Providers offer multiple ways to protect data. Choose appropriate data protection methods based on the types of data you plan to keep in the public cloud. The methods you choose can affect the storage cost and availability of your data.

6. Provision enough internet bandwidth on your premises. You will most likely need a faster Internet connection when storing and accessing your data in the public cloud. Consider using two Internet connections from different Internet Service Providers to avoid service interruptions. The availability and cost of broadband Internet service can vary considerably based on your location.  

7. Monitor your use of public cloud storage. Enumerate your cloud storage use cases. Identify which use cases deal with frequently accessed hot or warm data and which use cases deal with seldom accessed cold or archive data. Check the numbers for storing your hot, warm, cold and archive data in the public cloud. Extrapolate what your monthly expense might be over a range of data growth rates for the next five years. It can be more cost-efficient to store your cold and archive data in your own private storage cloud while using the public cloud for your hot and warm data.

8. Create life-cycle management plans for your data. It is easy to fall prey to keeping too much data for too long on your primary storage systems (DAS, SAN, and NAS). Data gets created for many purposes, and a lot of it becomes cold rather quickly.  Analyze the quantities and types of data you have on your primary storage systems.  Reduce the management and storage costs for these systems by moving seldom used data to a public or private storage cloud where you can set policies on how long to retain this data.

9. Identify which data needs to be encrypted when stored in a public cloud. It is not necessary to encrypt all of your data, but you should encrypt data that contains intellectual property, personally identifiable information, medical records, and financial data. The responsibility for encryption key management and who does the encryption—you or the storage provider, must be clearly understood.

10. Compare the benefits and costs of public cloud and private cloud data storage. Using public cloud storage is not always the best or least expensive way to store data. You can achieve many of the same benefits attributed to public cloud storage with a private storage cloud on your premises. Do the comparisons and do the math in order to make data storage decisions that align with the long-term interests of your business or organization.

Tim Wessels, founder of West Rindge-based MonadCloud, can be reached at 978-413-0201 or twessels@monadcloud.net.

Categories: Tech Advice