Every cloud storage is not the same. If you read the fine print, different cloud storage vendors provide different workloads for different price points. For instance, some cloud vendors might provide file storage services without backup features at a much cheaper price.  

However, when you consider that cloud providers are only responsible for infrastructure and application availability, while the protection of data, including backups, is your responsibility, opting for cheap cloud storage could lead to a greater risk of data loss from data corruption, accidental deletion and other business disruptions.  

Needless to say, taking only the price tag into consideration when you’re looking to manage your cloud data is going to be of little use. Instead, base your cloud management strategy on your cloud data storage needs. Typically, there are cloud storage use cases that provide insights on what kind of cloud storage will work for your business. 

Cloud Storage Management: Define Your Use Case

What data is best for the cloud?   

It’s a simple question that tends to get more complex the more you think about it. Good cloud storage management is dependant on what data should be stored in the cloud and what shouldn’t. To strike the right balance, consider some of these popular use cases to help you make practical assessments of your cloud storage needs that align with your business goals. 

Use Case #1: Cloud backup and recovery

A whopping 64% of respondents said that they were either already using cloud services for backup or would like to do so.  

Data loss caused due to human error, illegitimate deletion, programmatic errors, malicious insiders and ransomware financially cripples businesses. 

Crying over spilled milk (or lost data) is of no use. If you deal with a high volume of sensitive data, you need a flexible and scalable backup infrastructure that protects critical information. Using cloud storage for backup and recovery provides high durability, scalability and low total cost of ownership (TCO) that helps you cost-efficiently keep at least one copy of your primary data off-site. Don’t forget to estimate how often you will need to make a recovery (and whether there are associated fees) and what bandwidth you have available should you need to download data back again. Downloading from the cloud will result in a much slower RTO than spinning up workloads in the cloud environment. Some vendors, including Unitrends, offer SLAs around cloud-based Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service.   

Use Case #2: Hybrid cloud backup

About 74% of enterprises believe they are using the best of both worlds and define their strategy as hybrid or multi-cloud.

A hybrid cloud unifies multiple deployment types — public cloud and private cloud — under the same data management while keeping workloads separate. This means data and applications can seamlessly move between two environments without affecting each other.  

Hybrid cloud storage is a perfect fit when you need:  

Scalability – Storage requirements may vary and many organizations leverage a cloud infrastructure that they can easily scale up or throttle down to meet demands (without impacting workload performance).   

Security – A robust security infrastructure where both sensitive data and generic workloads can be secured at the same time.  

Performance – Greater flexibility in migrating data across multiple data centers for highly effective redundancy, failover and disaster recovery.  

Bonus Tip: While many vendors provide a hybrid cloud stack, most of them are not compatible since they run on different systems with separate user dashboards. IT professionals have to jump between multiple vendors, which makes managing cloud storage cumbersome. To ensure smooth could storage management, find a single, centralized point of control to manage the entire cloud architecture.

Use Case #3: Archiving

Techopedia defines data archiving as:  

Data archiving is the process of retaining data for long-term storage. Even though the data might not be in use, it can be brought into use and can be stored for future purposes.  

Often, organizations that specifically operate in highly regulated industries, such as financial services, healthcare, legal services and the public sector, must retain archives for long durations to meet regulatory compliance requirements. The consequences of not maintaining archives range from lawsuits and legal fees, substantial regulatory or out-of-compliance fines, loss of revenue, audit failures and even unexpected tax payments. Not to mention the indirect cost arising from loss of productivity, consumer confidence and brand reputation.   

It’s no surprise that archiving was one of the first use cases of cloud storage and the trend remains. According to the Enterprise Storage Forum survey, 31% of respondents claimed they use cloud storage services for archiving.   

There are several reasons why archiving is a popular cloud storage management use case:  

  • Storing archived data in the cloud is more cost-effective as compared to storing and maintaining large amounts of non-essential data in-house.  

  • It removes the need for buying and upgrading tape hardware systems or buying exclusive archiving software.   

  • Archived data stored in the cloud is rarely migrated, which saves time and cost.  

  • Archived data is cold data (does not need to be accessed frequently), which is stored in the cloud to leave space for hot data (data that needs to be accessed frequently) to be stored on-premise. 

 Use Case #4: Tape replacement 

Replace physical media, such as disk or tape, with durable and secure cloud-enabled storage capabilities. IT professionals can transfer data from on-premises tape or virtual tape library systems to the cloud without disrupting existing on-premise workflows.  

This form of data migration is often done to reduce overheads on transportation of storage media from on-site to off-site physical data centers and resource maintenance of aging tape media. 

Define Your SLA

Cloud storage management needs a clearly defined cloud service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure the minimum level of service is maintained. It guarantees customers an established set of deliverables and describes financial penalties, such as credits for service time, if the provider fails to live up to the guaranteed terms.    

However, many cloud providers and their SLAs may not include data protection in the case of certain events or may not be able to offer SLAs with regards to recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) that are required by the business. And that’s where Unitrends comes in.  

Unitrends enables long-term retention and disaster recovery spin-up without lifting a finger. Built-in compliance reporting automatically tests and compares recovery testing actuals with your RPOs and RTOs. It does all of this with pre-defined SLAs, ensuring business operations run no matter what. 

About Adam Marget

Adam is a Technical Specialist on the Unitrends marketing team supporting digital and in-market events. Over the last 4 years with Unitrends, he has been delighted at the opportunity to work with customers, prospects, and partners alike to help solve challenges around data protection and business continuity. Adam joined Unitrends in 2016, bringing with him experience working with variety of manufacturers’ technology from edge to core as a coworker from national IT solutions provider CDW.