On-site vs the cloud: what’s the best storage solution?

14th May

Much of the internet now operates through the cloud, and many individuals will use some form of cloud storage whether they specifically asked for it or not.
With it being so prevalent you’d think the answer to the above question would be obvious. For companies with a large part of their workforce working from home, it makes sense for everything to be accessible from the cloud. However, it’s not as clear-cut as “on-site storage is old-hat. Cloud is the way forward”.
What are the options?
These days it’s probably more likely you’ve heard of the cloud than any sort of on-site storage options.
For individuals there are numerous cloud storage providers – Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, etc. – and these could also be used as a suitable solution for companies. If you require something a bit more substantial that includes more than just storage, then providers such as Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure are some of the most popular.
There are numerous providers of on-site storage hardware, and most of the major computing companies such as Dell, Fujitsu and IBM offer hardware solutions.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the pros and cons of both on-site storage and cloud storage.
On-site Storage
The pros:

Full control: With the storage infrastructure being on site, you obviously have full control over it. If something goes wrong you at least have the ability to rectify the problem yourself or get an external IT team involved. Being on site also gives you greater security. You may have highly sensitive employee data on file which is probably best kept on your premises. By creating your own internal security protocols, you know exactly where that data is at all times.
Performance: Location does make a difference. With the data physically being stored on site it doesn’t have far to travel. There would be very low latency and high-speed transfer of the data when it’s needed.
Not reliant on internet: You will need internet at some points to transfer some data but it is not essential if you wanted to access backed up data without an internet connection. If the internet were to go down, you aren’t completely cut off and you can back up data locally. If your data server is underground on the other side of the world, there’s no hope of getting to it if you have no internet connection.

The cons:

Damage/loss: The main concern with on-site storage is that it is vulnerable to physical damage. If a fire broke out in your office, tightly packed machinery with lots of components is particularly vulnerable.
Expensive: The initial outlay for the hardware required to put together an effective on-site backup system is quite expensive. You’re talking not just the kit itself, which varies in price depending on type of storage (SSD, flash disk etc.), but also the housing, wiring, cooling system and more. If you outsource the installation and upkeep this is also another cost to consider.
Slow deployment: A number of factors come into play before your storage is actually up and running and you are able to make use of it. Even before installation you have to consider prices and compare the enormous range of hardware options available. Once you’ve decided on what hardware to purchase, you have to decide where to put it, get it installed and then test it before it can be used properly. This is quite a lot to get through, particularly if you’re in desperate need of a data backup.

Off-site storage (the cloud)
The pros:

Fast deployment: The cloud is the complete opposite of on-site storage in this area. As soon as you sign up you can start using this storage. The infrastructure is already in place, so you’re ready to use it from the word go and begin backing up.
Scalability: As the company grows, so will the amount of data. It’s hard to know how much storage space you need when you’re first getting it. Fortunately, most cloud providers offer widely scalable packages. You can pay for what you need and increase the amount of space you have access to, as required.
Affordability/value: To begin with, there are fairly small costs for cloud storage. Usually billed on a monthly recurring cost, for the service you are getting, it’s certainly affordable for most businesses. The low monthly cost is no concern.
Management off-site: One of the things you’re getting for the money is a managed service. The hardware, maintenance and upkeep is all managed by the cloud storage provider. The customer doesn’t have anything to worry about as all this is taken off their hands.

The cons:

Lifetime costs: OK, so it’s affordable in small doses, but like any contract in which you’re paying for an ongoing service, it could end up being more expensive long-term. The monthly costs rack up and obviously increase with the more storage you require. You also have no control over the prices changing and your data is left in the hands of someone else. In comparison, on-site storage is a one-off investment that may prove to be cheaper in the long run.
Security/privacy: This is often people’s main concern. With your data being stored in a remote location there is a sense of unease that your data is not entirely safe. Data security breaches and power outages are all out of your control and you’re relying on the safety and security of your cloud provider to keep your data safe. It’s entirely possible that as time goes on, the threat to people’s data being hacked will only increase.

So, which is best?
Well, it’s a trick question, really.
The truth is, the best possible solution is a mix of both. This is perhaps a more expensive route to go down but if you can have multiple backup options, that is going to cover all bases.
The negatives associated with on-site storage don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t have it as an option, even if it’s just a last resort backup and not your main source of storage.
Most people are on the cloud these days and it’s relatively easy to initiate an efficient and companywide storage protocol, in which data is secure, easy to access and always available.
But it can be vulnerable, so just having it in the cloud alone poses its own risks.
Make sure you have a number of places you can turn to for your data, should one area of storage be compromised.
If you need a hand choosing the best options for this or need some advice on how to keep your data safe and secure, get in touch. We’d be happy to help.
Talk to us: realitysolutions.co.uk

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