This post discusses the pros and cons of cloud storage. 'Cloud' storage refers to data stored on a removable storage device and accessed via a server. Cloud data storage is classified as a service infrastructure. Cloud storage has hit the mainstream and is now being used by many consumers. Cloud storage has many advantages over traditional document box storage, and we see no reason why your business should not use it as well!
Below we list the pros and cons of this not-so-new technology.
Advantage #1: Disaster Recovery (DR)
When using cloud storage, data is at a reduced risk of system failure as all information is stored and backed up on an external currency, often thousands of miles away from your location. This means that you avoid costly data retrieval following all-too-common hard-drive malfunctioning. Cloud providers will automate the backup process for you. There is, therefore, no need to back up your data to an external currency on your own. As a result, you save time and stress.
Advantage #2: Access your data anywhere
As your data is stored remotely, you can access it whether you are in Manchester or Madrid. This is particularly helpful if your work requires frequent travel, or if your team is located in different time zones.
Cloud storage also helps the collaborative process when your team is spread across the globe. Cloud storage makes it easy for employees to log in and access the work of other team members regardless of the location and distance that separates the team members. When you use cloud storage, you are not restricted by location or medium, and as a result, your employees can work from home or abroad.
Advantage #3: Low cost
Cloud storage eliminates the need to pay for software licenses and updates, as all of this is included in one global monthly price. Cloud storage also avoids the need to invest in expensive server infrastructure, as the cloud company provides this off-site infrastructure for you. You eliminate the need to pay a dedicated in-house storage professional as this is effectively outsourced to a cloud storage company. Unlike in-house employees, you don't have to pay for a sick-pay cloud storage company.
Advantage #4: Scalability
You pay only for the amount of storage you need. If your business is experiencing growth, the cloud operator will meet your corresponding increase in data storage needs. You extend the amount of storage you have available by varying the amount you pay. Likewise, if your business shrinks, you can opt for less storage space at a reduced rate.
Scalable payment plans like 'pay as you go' are commonly available. Cloud storage, therefore, caters to all business sizes and needs.
Now we're looking at some of the cloud storage cons.
Disadvantage #1: Lack of total control
Since the data is kept off-site by a company that you do not control, you cannot control and customize your data storage setup. This is likely to be an issue for larger companies with complex storage needs. It typically requires a level of customization that cloud data storage companies are unfortunately unable to accommodate.
Disadvantage #2: Difficult to migrate
Once you've signed up and started using a specific cloud storage provider, it's hard to later move data to another cloud provider.
This is a phenomenon known as 'seller lock-in.' Vendor lock-in is a particular problem for medium-to large-scale businesses that store massive amounts of data with one cloud provider. If you have questions with that provider, it may be problematic to switch to another provider because of the data's sheer size and the complexity of making a move.
Disadvantage #3: Requires Internet
If your Internet connection fails, you will have access to remotely stored data. Internet failure leads to costly downtime when your business relies heavily on cloud storage. In addition, if your Internet connection is slow, you will need to wait a long time to access your remotely stored data.
No cloud provider is offering an outage-free service. By way of example, the major cloud storage provider 'Dropbox' experienced a two-day shutdown in 2014. This caused a lot of inconvenience for many of Dropbox’s customers.
While cloud storage poses potential security threats and may not be suited to all business needs, we feel cloud storage benefits far beyond the potential costs. Cloud storage is here to stay, and something most businesses should consider using.