What is Cloud Storage Introduction
Have you got a grip on cloud storage yet or are you one of the many IT professionals and general users who are playing catch-up and still asking “what is cloud storage and how should I use it?”.
What Cloud Storage is Not
Cloud storage is not something weather related. Although cloud storage sounds like it has something to do with the weather, its really refers to saving data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. So instead of storing data on an external hard drive for example, you save it to a remote database with the Internet providing the means of data transfer.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is a data distribution model, with the potential for economies of scale. Aside from cost, its benefits are outsourced operation, easy to use, unlimited growth and ‘enterprise’ features such as high availability, security, data protection, etc.
Cloud storage is a service model in which data is maintained, managed and backed up remotely and made available to users over a network (typically the Internet). Cloud storage can mean different things to different people depending upon how it’s implemented. There are three main cloud storage models:
The public cloud model. This is the most common implementation. It is essentially storage capacity accessed through the internet or a wide area network (WAN) connection, and purchased on an as-needed basis. Being a highly scalable storage infrastructure, generally in physically dispersed locations, users can expand capacity almost without limit.
- Public cloud storage services, such as Amazon‘s Simple Storage Service (S3), provide a multi-tenant storage environment that’s most suitable for unstructured data.
Private cloud or corporate cloud storage services provide a dedicated (usually proprietary) environment protected behind an organization’s firewall. Private clouds are appropriate for users who require firewall protection for a select number of people, customization and strict control over their data.
Hybrid cloud storage is a combination of at least one private cloud (provided/managed in-house) and one public cloud (provided externally) infrastructure. A typical example would be an organisation which stored archived data in a public cloud and used a private cloud for operational data.
- An enterprise-level cloud storage system should be scalable to suit both current and future needs.
- An enterprise-level cloud storage system should also be accessible from any location.
The hybrid approach allows users to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical data and applications to third-party vulnerabilities.
Cloud Storage Basics, Data Centres
There are many cloud storage solutions. Some have a very specific focus, such as storing email or digital pictures. Others will store any form of digital data. Some cloud storage operations are relatively small, whilst others are the size of small towns and require dedicated power and cooling plants. These facilities are called data centres.
- A simple cloud storage system is just one data server connected to the Internet.
- A medium to large cloud storage systems would rely on hundreds or thousands of data servers.
How the Cloud is Used
A simplification on the use of the cloud is this:
- A client sends copies of their files over the Internet to the data server, which then records and stores the data.
- When the client wishes to retrieve their data, the client accesses the data server through a Web-based interface (their browser) and requests the server to either send the files back to the client or allow the client to access and manipulate their files on the server itself.
All computers, even data servers, occasionally fail or require maintenance or repair. For this reason cloud stores store copies of client data on multiple servers, usually with independent power supplies. This is called redundancy. Redundancy ensures that a clients data is safe even if one of the storage facilities fails. It also has the advantage that a client can access their data at any time.
- One typical cloud storage usage that takes advantage of this advanced data redundancy feature is data backups. If something happens to the client’s computer system, the data survives off-site.
Cloud Storage Examples
There are hundreds of cloud storage providers on the Web and not just those companies competing to provide storage for business. Some you may even be using without even realising it’s cloud storage. Here are a few well-known companies that offer some form of cloud storage:
- Google Docs: Users can upload, manipulate, store, retrieve and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations to Google’s data servers.
- Email Cloud: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and many more are all cloud storage systems.
- Picture Cloud: Flickr and Picasa host millions of digital photographs for their clients.
- Video Cloud: YouTube, Vimeo and Metacafe host millions of user uploaded video files.
- Web site hosting: Companies such as JustHost, Hostmonster and GoDaddy store the files and data for client Web sites.
- Social networking: Facebook and MySpace allow members to post their content.
For business users some of the more well know cloud storage providers include:
- Acronis: See my article, Acronis Backup and Recovery Software for Business.
- For more cloud storage and backup solutions see my article: Recommended Cloud Online Storage and Backup Solutions.
What is Cloud Storage Conclusion
Well, I hope you found something useful and enjoyed this article, What is Cloud Storage, How Cloud Storage Works. Don’t forget to let me have your thoughts in the comment box below. See you soon.