Learning Guides

Understanding cloud storage services: A guide for beginners

Cloud storage is without a doubt one of the biggest buzzwords of the year. But more than that, cloud storage services are becoming a popular option for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as larger enterprises, as an alternative to adding and maintaining more storage in-house.

According to the Spring 2010 Storage magazine/SearchStorage Purchasing Intentions survey, 14% of respondents said they're using cloud storage now, with the largest numbers using cloud storage for disaster recovery (6%). But 4% are using it to hold primary data from their data centers, and an equal number are using it for nearline data storage.

But before you take plunge and sign up with a cloud storage service provider, there are some things you need to know. Is cloud storage secure? How much will it cost? What services are best for SMBs? In our cloud storage services guide for beginners, we've collected our top tips and expert advice in one place so you can get answers to your most important questions. Learn about cloud backup, cloud archiving, cloud disaster recovery, and using the cloud for primary storage.

CLOUD STORAGE SERVICES GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 First steps: Getting started with cloud storage 
 Use cases: Cloud data backup 
 Cloud disaster recovery 
 Cloud archiving 
 Cloud storage security and the future of the cloud 

  GETTING STARTED WITH CLOUD STORAGE 

Cloud storage services for smaller businesses

Part of the reason why cloud storage is having difficulty catching on in the data storage realm is because it is still a relatively new concept. Also, many users have questions about the cost and whether or not cloud storage is secure. One of the biggest advantages of using cloud storage for SMBs is that many SMBs don't have a large technical staff to handle storage. Read this article to determine if cloud storage services are a good choice for your organization, and learn about the pros and cons of cloud storage.

Cloud storage explained

"Cloud storage" is basically defined as data storage that is made available as a service via a network. But that definition can be confusing because it's so broad and can include many different types of companies. In this cloud storage guide from SearchStorage, learn about cloud storage criteria, read a cloud storage case study, learn about the future of cloud storage, and more. Click here to read cloud storage explained.

Cloud storage: Five best practices for moving to the cloud

Cloud storage is still a pretty new technology, but experts have already developed some best practices for getting the most from moving to cloud storage. You should read service-level agreements very carefully and beware of hidden costs. Cloud storage providers will tell you the basic cost per gigabyte of cloud storage up front to help you figure out how much it will cost you per month depending on the amount of data you need to store. But these basic costs are only part of the picture, and providers may also charge extra for data transfers, meta data functions, or copying and deleting files. For more information on moving to cloud storage, read this article on cloud storage best practices.

  USE CASES: CLOUD DATA BACKUP 

A tutorial on cloud backup services

One of the more popular use cases for cloud computing is cloud backup. But what should you look for in a cloud backup service? What are the different types of cloud backup services? Which ones are best for business use? In this tutorial by data backup and recovery guru W. Curtis Preston, learn everything you need to know about cloud backup services. Click here to read our cloud backup services tutorial.

Service-level agreement and cloud backup services

There are a number of things that must be taken into consideration before you sign up with a cloud data backup service provider. Things to be aware of are: security and privacy, bandwidth issues, and data recovery. Read this tip for a checklist of things to include in a service-level agreement with a cloud backup service.

Cloud data backup management

Management isn't the first concern that comes to mind for end users of cloud data backup. One of the reasons that companies outsource their data backups to cloud data backup service providers is to offload the burden of monitoring, maintaining and supporting the infrastructure.

But tracking key metrics can be helpful, and users are seeing improving options depending on their cloud backup providers. Read this article to learn about what's in store for you when you sign up with a cloud backup service, and what you need to know about cloud data backup management.

  CLOUD DISASTER RECOVERY 

Cloud backup neglects recovery and security necessary for true cloud disaster recovery

Many cloud vendors are positioning cloud backup as an ideal disaster recovery solution, allowing users to replicate data offsite and outside of their company's geographic region at a reasonable cost. And, there are even a number of so-called cloud disaster recovery services on the market today. But, what does "cloud disaster recovery" really mean? Read this article to get answers to your questions about  cloud backup and cloud disaster recovery.

Are cloud disaster recovery services secure?

One of the biggest issues with cloud storage in general is security. Some important tips include making sure that you check your vendor's references, assessing customer service and ensuring that the vendor's procedures mesh with what your business needs. Read about these tips and others in this expert response by Kevin Beaver about cloud disaster recovery security.

Iowa Health System uses cloud disaster recovery to survive flood

Iowa Health System didn't set out to design a private cloud, but its unintentional internal storage cloud built with Bycast Inc. software and IBM Corp. and NetApp storage ended up saving its mission-critical data from getting lost in the Iowa flood last year. In this case study, learn how Iowa Health System implemented cloud disaster recovery.

  CLOUD ARCHIVING

Getting started with cloud archiving: Tips for smaller businesses

Cloud archiving can make excellent financial and operational sense, but one thing to keep in mind is that cloud-based data backup is not the same as cloud archiving. Cloud archiving is entirely different from cloud-based backup and recovery. There are four essential reasons to archive. The first two are regulatory compliance and e-discovery, and they are typically lumped together. The next is historical reference, which is rarely discussed but can be very important for some businesses. The fourth is content distribution, which is quickly becoming increasingly important, especially for rich media. Read about other tips like this and about getting started with cloud archiving.

Cloud archiving: Choosing the best cloud service provider

This article compares the features of online data storage providers that can compete in the global data archive market based on standard features available in on-site archiving products: Autonomy Zantaz and Iron Mountain Inc. (which was recently acquired Mimosa Systems). Learn how to choose the best cloud archiving service in this tip.

  CLOUD STORAGE SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF THE CLOUD 

Top five concerns with cloud storage

There are many concerns with cloud storage, which is still a relatively new technology. Does the provider offer public, private or hybrid clouds? How will you integrate your back-end data with cloud services? Data integration, privacy and compliance are some of the top worries for users considering cloud storage services. Read this article to learn about the top five concerns with cloud storage services.

Cloud backup security

There are a lot of security issues to keep in mind when considering cloud backup. Once backup data is removed from your cloud provider -- be it a single file or an entire backup set -- is it actually removed or does it linger online forever? This could create data retention and e-discovery liabilities. Is the data encrypted once it's uploaded? This is typically the case and not a big issue you need to be concerned with. Is the data encrypted in transit? Read about how to address cloud backup security in this article.

Cloud storage: Not everyone thinks the future is bright for clouds

Although adoption of storage clouds is underway, many storage administrators still need to be convinced of their value -- and point to clear obstacles that still remain with the technology -- before they will feel comfortable moving to the cloud. Common questions include: Will my data be available when I need to retrieve it? Who's controlling my data? What is the performance like when retrieving data from the cloud? Get the answers to these questions in more in the this article on the future of cloud storage.

EDITOR'S TIP: For more cloud storage tips, bookmark our special section on SMB data storage strategy.


This was first published in August 2010

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