Storage remains the most popular cloud service in the enterprise these days, but it seems that low cost and flexible scalability are starting to give way to more practical concerns like reliability and ease-of-migration as the market evolves.
This is likely caused by two factors. First, the number and diversity of cloud providers are increasing, allowing the enterprise to pursue more tailored infrastructure for their application needs, Second, business models are starting to catch up to technology so that organizations require more than just cheap bulk storage for their data overflow.
According to Research and Markets, cloud storage is still on a healthy upward trajectory. The firm estimates the cloud storage sector will more than triple by 2022, rising from $18.87 billion in 2015 to more than $67 billion. Major drivers include an influx of new users and the growing need to support Big Data applications in an increasingly digitized economy. As well, market outliers include the rapid adoption of cloud storage gateways that allow organizations to more easily integrate publicly stored data with in-house resources over hybrid cloud architectures.
But this does not mean that cloud storage is a walk down Easy Street for the enterprise. As Enterprise Storage Forum’s Paul Rubens noted recently, companies can find themselves in a jam if they do not build their cloud environments with the right outlook. For one thing, different providers can offer vastly different terms for everything ranging from pricing models to data accessibility, and many are starting to provide environments that are optimized for key industry verticals like health care and finance, which can make or break compliance and discovery fulfilment.
Cloud storage can also come back to bite you if you fail to implement the proper usage and deployment policies, says PCB Enterprises’ Larry Loeb. So-called shadow IT got its start within storage services and has now permeated across SaaS, PaaS and IaaS environments. Now, the major threat comes from linking rogue data in the cloud with emerging sharing applications, very few of which conform to SOC 2, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other compliance guidelines. According to Blue Coat’s recent Shadow Data Report, nearly a quarter of data saved on the cloud is routinely shared among employees and external parties, sometimes exposing data improperly even through sanctioned platforms like Microsoft Office.
The elephant in the cloud storage room, of course, is Amazon, which currently holds twice as much data on its S3 service than the next seven providers combined, according to Gartner. This is impressive considering that the group of seven includes Google, Microsoft, IBM and AT&T. But bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to enterprise workloads. As Gartner analyst Raj Bala noted to Fortune, offerings like the Glacier archival service make it easy to put data in, but difficult and expensive to get it out again. Still, the fact remains that Amazon is growing by double digits, and it does provide the largest field of block, file and object storage options, so it is worth a look under any cloud strategy.
The cloud has become so ubiquitous by now that it is quickly becoming the norm in data architectures. As such, IT executives will have to start provisioning cloud resources with as much, if not more, care and planning than goes into traditional data center infrastructure.
Like a Scandinavian smorgasbord, the cloud offers many options, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get indigestion if you try to eat too many dishes too fast.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.