Off-premises cloud services are commonly accepted as lower-cost alternatives to on-premises IT infrastructure deployments. Because IT is perpetually working to lower both capital and operating expenses associated with backup storage infrastructure, backup workloads are common targets for migration to the cloud. However, this is not necessarily the most effective strategy for optimizing cost efficiencies.
As discussed by Lead Analyst George Crump and IT consultant Brad Johns in a recent Storage Switzerland video, IT organizations should holistically evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their backup storage infrastructure, as opposed to focusing solely on immediate costs such as upfront infrastructure acquisition.
When evaluating TCO, the organization should focus on three levels: the volume of data that is going to be stored, how fast that data is growing, and how frequently the organization will retrieve data. When compared to tape and disk storage arrays, cloud storage services provide the upfront benefit of avoiding investment in infrastructure. Over the span of five or ten years, though, that cost structure can quickly scale.
IT organizations should first consider the fact that data is growing explosively today – which means that the capacity they are paying for per month in a cloud storage model is going to increase substantially over time. Even when factoring in the need to refresh storage infrastructure per month, cloud storage capacity costs quickly become very expensive -especially if a company requires two copies of data.
Another recurring cost associated with cloud storage that many TCO models don’t factor in is data retrieval. Data retrieval costs, also known as egress charges, can quickly become significant, especially with the faster pace at which IT is expected to back up and retrieve data. This drives up network costs, as faster speeds are more expensive.
IT organizations should carefully evaluate TCO from a five- or ten-year perspective when deciding between cloud services, tape storage systems, or disk storage systems for their backup infrastructure. This evaluation tool developed by Brad Johnson can help to begin this process.