Companies are needing more and more data storage space: e-mail, social media, and other communication systems are accumulating ever larger amounts. On top of this demand come the sensors of the Internet of Things, continuously producing data.
No wonder the amount of data produced by humanity is growing exponentially. According to a study commissioned by hard drive manufacturer Seagate and conducted by the US market research institute IDC, this expanse will multiply to 175 zettabytes – that’s 175, followed by 21 zeros. If this mass of data were to be stored on conventional DVDs, the height of the stack would be 23 times the distance between the earth and the moon.
An exploding data universe, in which data becomes the raw material for future business, also requires flexibly available storage space. Thus, companies are faced with the challenge of finding large capacities at low cost. Cloud storage, as offered by the Open Telekom Cloud, makes it possible to cope with such huge mountains of data.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage refers to storage space that is not located on users' devices but on one or more servers that can be accessed over a network. Three different types are available: public, private, and hybrid cloud storage.
Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud Storage in comparison
- We speak of public cloud storage if the storage location is operated by a special provider who offers it over the Internet for a monthly or annual fee. The provider serves a large number of users who store their data in separate, password-protected areas. However, these users share the same technical resources – i.e., the storage space, the computing power of the servers, and the capacity of the Internet connection. The advantage to the customer is the low cost of this option. Furthermore, the quantity of storage resources used can be adjusted at any time. The use of public cloud resources also saves corporate IT departments from having to make continuous – and costly – investments in storage hardware and maintaining the necessary expertise.
- An alternative to public cloud storage is so-called private cloud storage. Here, data are located on the servers of a private network, and users do not have to share computing power and storage space with third parties. The company has full control over the storage space but is also responsible for the necessary hardware and administration. A private cloud that is operated by an external provider who gives users access via the Internet is referred to as a virtual private cloud. This option can be imagined as an area reserved for a specific user within a public cloud. That way, he does not have to share cloud resources with others. The advantages are greater security and higher availability.
- Hybrid cloud storage, a third variant, combines the private cloud storage solution with external online storage. This choice is particularly interesting for companies that need internal storage space for sensitive data on the one hand and easily accessible and scalable storage for projects that can be implemented quickly on the other.
But how can companies make concrete use of cloud storage? Here are three practical examples.
A data lake as a basis for big-data analyses
A data lake is a central platform for the management of data. Instead of storing them in separate folders, a data lake gathers them all without hierarchical order – like water in a lake. The data are stored as so-called “objects,” each equipped with freely definable metadata and an ID. This approach enables applications to retrieve and analyze the data.
Compared to other forms of data storage, such as relational databases or a data warehouse, data are not specially prepared in advance. This method enables a wide variety of applications to access them. Only when they are to be used are data converted into the format of the application that is to access them.
Data lakes offer several advantages compared to databases. For example, since they make it possible to access data from different sources and in different formats within a short period of time, they are particularly suitable as a basis for big-data analyses. In addition, the data storage is more cost-effective compared to a data warehouse. And since the data are stored unstructured, a data lake can also be enlarged very easily, as there is no need to consider the structure of databases or file systems. The Open Telekom Cloud also offers an Object Storage Service that you can use to build a data lake.
Cloud storage as a means for backups
No company can afford to lose its data. Therefore, performing regular backups is an important task for every enterprise IT department. However, if the latter carries out the backups on self-operated servers, this mandatory task can become a major drain on IT resources. For this reason, many established providers of backup software also offer cloud storage as a location for backups. It is easy to use, offers smaller companies an efficient and cost-effective alternative to storage on their own servers, and relieves the IT management. When backing up to cloud storage, companies can also choose between private cloud storage, public cloud storage, and a hybrid solution.
The Open Telekom Cloud offers a Volume Backup Service, which makes backup copies of data and operating system storage media. A different product, the Cloud Server Backup Service, even makes it possible to combine several servers and storage volumes that work together for one application into one single backup.
Disaster recovery through cloud storage
Simple backups are not sufficient to keep a company running in the event of extreme situations such as a hacker attack or a fire in a data center. This should be the task of a disaster recovery plan. In traditional disaster recovery, a redundant data center, which serves as a disaster recovery site, ensures continued operation. Of course, its use and maintenance can be costly.
Disaster recovery through cloud computing offers a cost-effective alternative. With a hybrid approach, companies can, for example, use the Open Telekom cloud as a disaster recovery location. Such an operation of corporate applications in redundant, spatially separated infrastructures with different management ensures a high degree of system stability even in extreme circumstances.
Conclusion: There is no way around cloud storage
Modern collaboration tools and the Internet of Things are causing a massive increase in the amount of data that companies have to handle. Consequently, their IT management is often overwhelmed with the task of providing storage space on self-managed servers at low cost. Cloud storage offers an alternative here. Examples of practical applications include data lakes for storing unstructured data, backups, and disaster recovery. When implementing this technology, companies can choose between cost-effective and flexible public cloud storage, secure private cloud storage, or the hybrid cloud as a mixed solution.
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