Accelerating change in technology has brought increased competition, new marketing channels and innovative business models making it difficult for companies to keep up. Fortunately, the problem is also the solution. Change creates opportunity.
In this article, we will discuss data storage and data security, critical issues that can impact the bottom line and even a company’s survival.
Public vs. Private Storage Options
The big question facing organizations with expanding data storage requirements is whether to go with a public or private cloud storage infrastructure.
Public storage has resources that are shared by hundreds of users. A good example is Amazon Web Services (AWS). It’s “capacity at the end of the wire.” Providers usually charge for bandwidth and capacity used.
The most often cited concerns about public clouds are security and performance. Public storage has the advantage of pay-as-you-go scalability and good disaster recovery protection, but may suffer from latency/performance issues with large quantities of data retrieved. It is best suited for static, archive and backup data.
Private storage clouds are built with resources dedicated to a single organization and offer better security. Disadvantages of private clouds are limited scalability and potentially higher costs. Private clouds can support multiple, widely dispersed users via internal or hosted resources, have high reliability and in-house control.
Privacy concerns are driving private clouds in large companies at the expense of usability and mobile access. A private infrastructure is the only option in some highly regulated industries where data security is critical.
Public Data Storage Problems
Public data storage can suffer from outages, downtime and security risks. Some highly visible outages have had serious consequences for customers and providers as well.
Recent Major Downtime Incidents:
- Google – Aug. 16, 2013; less than five minutes; all of its services went down; the volume of global Internet traffic plunged by about 40 percent.
- Amazon Web Services – Sept. 13, 2013; under three hours; connectivity issues disrupted a notable portion of Internet activity.
- HealthCare.gov – Oct. 27-28, 2013; more than 16 hours; a service outage at a Verizon Terremark data center caused downtime for HealthCare.gov.
A new study has revealed that the average outage of on-premises data centers or cloud services was seven-and-a-half hours. Ninety-one percent of respondents to the 2013 Ponemon Institute study on downtime reported having had unplanned downtime in the last two years. According to the report, “an estimated 30 percent of organizations that experience a severe outage never actually recover.”
Power loss and failed backups were found to be the main cause of downtime followed by traffic and DNS routing or natural disasters. Several outages were a direct result of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy emphasizing the importance of geographic redundancy.
Storage providers Google and Dropbox retain the right to “publicly display and distribute” content uploaded to their servers, among other disturbing actions. Privacy experts say that the public cloud – any public cloud – is not the place for corporations to be storing sensitive or confidential information.
True Data Security on Private Clouds with Dedicated Resources
A private cloud delivers cloud services on resources dedicated to you, either on-premises or in a partner’s hosting facility. Dedicated resources offer you more control over the level of security, privacy, customization and governance of your software and services than does a public cloud.
With a private cloud you have control over who sees your data. Employees at a public cloud company may have access to sensitive information. If you have compliance requirements, that will not be acceptable. SAS 70 or SSAE 16 audits and PCI or HIPAA compliance are crucial when finding a company to outsource your private cloud.
You also have control over the firewall resources, since they are dedicated to you. In a public cloud, changes made to the firewall in the shared environment could affect your data security.
Advanced cloud data security with dedicated servers and network resources offered by a few private cloud hosting providers creates the best cloud security possible with several non-security benefits as well, including:
- Faster setup
- Better integration
- Improved performance
- Less downtime
- No tradeoff between security and cost
Although public cloud data storage is an attractive option, the private cloud advantages of better security and performance are important to most organizations. Furthermore, a hosted private cloud has the potential to achieve lower overall costs than a public cloud by providing a more stable environment resulting in the above benefits.