Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cloud Storage - unlimited reliable online storage

Are you part of a Cloud? Have you started using Cloud based services? Do you use Cloud storage? You may answer “No” to these questions, but the simple truth is that, you may already be using Cloud services without even knowing it! Have an email account provided by a 3rd party like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo!? Then you’ve already started using Cloud Storage. Yup, your mails are being stored on the “Cloud” of one of these service providers. Read on to find out more about Cloud Storage.

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage can be defined as service offered by a third party, where a customer pays for the space he requires to store his data online. A few features of cloud storage are:
  • Data is stored on multiple virtual servers, as opposed to a dedicated server with attached storage.
  • Customers are provided with a simple interface that allows them to upload, download and browse their data, without exposing the underlying structure.
  • Customer are kept unaware of details of how the data is stored. They only see one large unlimited storage area.

What are its advantages?

  • There are no limits on the amount of data that can be uploaded. The customer pays for as much as he requires.
  • Customers don’t have to purchases a dedicated server just for storage. They pay only for the space required.
  • Availability and reliability of stored data is taken care of by the service provider.

What are its disadvantages?

  • Though listed as an advantage, availability and reliability are dependent on the service provider you choose. So chose based on feedback received from other customers.
  • The data is stored outside your servers. So data security is a concern.
  • Even if data availability is taken care of, transfer speeds will depend on the route between you and the Cloud.

What security measures are taken to protect data?

Most Cloud Storage providers offer 3 levels of security:
  • Encryption - All data stored on the Cloud is encrypted, mostly for both storage and transfer.
  • Authentication - Only authorized users will have access to the data stored in the cloud.
  • Physical Security - Providers ensure that access to the physical infrastructure used for storage is restricted, monitored and logged.

How can it help webhosts?

One of the main area where cloud storage can be used by webhosts, is backup. Depending on the price of extended storage at the time, the advantages for a webhost with a single server may be minimal. But once you have 3 or more servers, cloud storage will start to make more sense. It can also be used to store large amounts of data that require a lot of reads, but not many frequent writes. So database storage may be out of the question, but large video files can still be stored. So the next time you find yourself with a lot of data, and thinking about purchasing a backup drive, think about cloud storage, and if it might suit your needs better.