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What Is Cloud Storage as a Service?

What Is Cloud Storage as a Service?

Like cloud-based compute, software, and application development resources, storage capacity can be procured on a subscription basis from a cloud provider. When you use cloud storage as a service, you can store or back up your data in a highly scalable and distributed way across the internet. The cloud provider owns, manages, and maintains the foundational storage hardware and networking components in its data centers. This alleviates the need for you to continually update and refresh technology.

These characteristics of cloud storage as a service are analogous to those of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for compute resources, software as a service (SaaS) for application software, and platform as a service (PaaS) for cloud-hosted development tools. Your business applications access the cloud storage service through traditional storage protocols or directly via an API supplied by your cloud provider.

Cloud Storage as a Service vs. DIY Storage Environments

There are many cloud storage-as-a-service options, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and others. With cloud storage as a service, you can grow or shrink your storage capacity on demand and pay only for what you use. In addition, because of the size and scope of cloud provider data centers and networks, you can economically scale your storage and data backup environment infinitely and nearly anywhere. Data is quickly accessible 24x7 to distributed and remote employees who may be working in any location.

By contrast, running your own private storage environment can be expensive. It requires large upfront capital expenditures (CAPEX) for hardware, real estate, power, and cooling. You’ll also incur costs for the IT resources and tools needed to manage your storage devices and the storage area networks (SANs) that connect them.

Taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach might also impede your business agility because it takes time to procure, test, and deploy additional hardware resources. With a cloud service, you can treat storage as an operating expenditure (OPEX*). The CAPEX, maintenance, management, and time-to-deploy worries disappear.

*OPEX treatment is subject to customer’s auditor review.

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Improving Data Availability

Most storage cloud providers offer service level agreements (SLAs) for service uptime. You’ll pay the cloud provider for the storage capacity you use and an associated SLA for the availability level you agree upon.

Cloud storage providers store your data on multiple machines to help ensure its availability. If there’s an outage in one location, access fails over to the backup location. Cloud providers run global operations and build in geographic redundancy to route around any planned or unplanned downtime. In the event of a natural disaster or other type of disruption, your data will stay accessible. Failovers are performed in compliance with any regulations that apply to your particular industry. That might include restrictions on geographic locations where data isn’t allowed to be hosted or stored

With most providers, the data redundancy extends to all related components, including power, connectivity, hardware, and virtual machines (VMs).

Benefits Recap

Storing data in the cloud lets IT departments improve operations in several ways:

  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The subscription model lets you avoid capital purchases and quickly achieve economies of scale. You also reduce investments in in-house storage management and tools.
  • Faster time to deployment. IT can quickly grow or shrink storage capacity. There’s no need to procure, test, and deploy storage equipment to meet changing business needs.
  • Improved availability. You can take advantage of the “always-on” SLAs of the major cloud service providers. They have global, distributed data centers and networks with multiple levels of redundancy built-in

For these reasons,cloud storage-as-a-service usage has grown substantially in the past five years. In 2015, it accounted for 30% of corporate data storage, according to Statista. In 2020, half (50%) of the world’s data was stored in the cloud.

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