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The cloud is an attractive option for small to medium-sized businesses because it allows a company to skip the infrastructure investment (like servers and storage) and the overhead of setting up and operating these applications on-site. Instead, cloud services are implemented with a simple download and are paid for on a monthly basis, like other recurring expenses. But there are some downsides to traditional cloud services that an SMB needs to be aware of. For companies looking to take advantage of the cloud the way they get into the cloud is an important decision.
The knock on pure cloud solutions, like cloud backup, is that since they store all data in the cloud they require a lot of data movement over an internet connection, especially for the initial backup. This can mean a significant amount of time to get data up to the cloud before the backup is complete and data is safe. For this reason, many cloud-based backup providers have started offering a “hybrid” option, where they place an appliance on-site which handles the backup locally, storing the data on the appliance and then moving that data up to the cloud, transparently to the users.
This means the company gets fast backup, their backup window is short because data is only moving over the LAN. They also get integration with the cloud, so the backend process is handled automatically. It’s a ‘best of both worlds’ kind of solution for many companies. Hybrid solutions can also allow them to select which data they want to send to the cloud, keeping sensitive data on local storage to comply with regulations or with company policy.
But each cloud-based service, like backup or file sharing and collaboration, must be bought separately and typically are charged for based on the number of users. This can be fine for a company with a dozen employees, but if they have twenty or thirty users, cloud solutions can get expensive, quickly. And for hybrid solutions this can mean bringing in a separate box for each one, increasing the cost and complexity of their cloud decision. This can make the cloud less appealing as they add more services.
For SMBs a small business server can be a better way to bring the goodness of the cloud without the downside of dedicated local appliances. In addition to local file sharing and backup, they also integrate with the cloud to provide a hybrid solution for multiple services in the same box, plus run software for the applications that aren’t available in the cloud. For more information on how SMBs can get into the cloud the right way, tune in to this webinar from StorageSwiss “Three Reasons why an SMB’s First Server should be more than a NAS”.
Western Digital is a client of Storage Switzerland