It is no secret that storage infrastructure is expensive. In today’s age of rapid data growth and increasingly strict compliance regulations, these costs can quickly become inhibitive if the organization does not re-think its data storage strategy. For many organizations, this means shifting at least a portion of their data off-premises to cloud storage services. However, this might not in fact be the most cost-effective strategy when all factors are considered.
Arguably the most significant draw of cloud storage services for most IT organizations is the ability to forgo the heavy investment required in building a data center; the upfront capex savings are significant. However, this “rental” cost model can quickly become very expensive as organizations store their data in the cloud for longer periods of time, and as these data stores grow over that time.
For some enterprises, a factor that could tip the storage cost equation in favor of on-premises arrays is the ongoing development of object storage solutions. Object storage access methods form the basis of many cloud storage services including Amazon S3 because, unlike more traditional block and file approaches, they are massively scalable. Whereas block and file access methods organize files in a hierarchy, object approaches organize “objects” in a flat layout that does not become unwieldy as it grows. These objects are searched for and identified by metadata that may be customized per business needs.
Object storage access can substantially lower the cost of on-premises storage and for more reasons than the fact that it can more easily use lower-cost commodity hardware. Data retrieval is vastly simplified, which reduces overhead (and as a result increases the drive capacity that can be utilized). Additionally, simplified data access means that application developers and owners can more independently change applications without the support of the IT team.
Are cloud storage services cheaper than on-premises arrays? The most accurate answer is that it depends; both paths offer compelling upsides, and the storage buyer should holistically consider all cost levers and business or workload requirements. Cloud storage services are most compelling when a business must get their storage online as quickly as possible, with minimal capex and overhead. Object storage offers a path to obtaining many benefits of cloud storage services, including cost efficiency, on-premises – with the additional upside of increased control over data and business continuity.
The good news is that solutions are coming to market that support moving data to on-premises object storage, cloud storage services, or both. These solutions can automatically move data between the various storage types and can transparently restore that data when accessed. Most importantly, they allow organizations to start in the cloud to avoid large upfront costs and later move to an on-premises model when “rental” costs become too high.
To learn more about how hybrid cloud storage can lower overall storage costs, watch our on demand webinar “The Hybrid Cloud Data Gravity Problem and How to Fix It.”