While data has always been valuable, the "analytics" age has transformed our view of it to be a clear resource that should be collected and protected as much as possible. Although there is a premium on protecting data, it can’t conflict on our ability to access and share this data with the proper people within our business, otherwise the data is useless. This explosion in analytics and data has created the need for new solutions for storage and analytics to fully leverage their value.
Companies began to see the value in deep analysis of consumer trends by predicting behavior and better understanding the long-term or life-time value of a customer. Perhaps the most notable instance of this was Target marketing baby products to expectant mothers based on predictive models they established—understanding that even simple products like unscented lotion, certain supplements, and cotton balls being purchased allowed them to predict the due date and send appropriate coupons to coincide with expected purchases.
One of the requirements for this sort of predictive modeling is the need for lots of data and the associated storage of that data. Solid state drives and larger capacities have improved data storage in smaller machines, but these gains haven’t necessarily been able to keep up with the need. In these instances, the cloud offers near-limitless storage potential and accessibility, in addition to high levels of data security.
Cloud storage has provided an affordable, flexible storage solution for businesses of all sizes. Much of the beauty of this solution is the flexibility it affords, as providers allow you to change your storage allotment based on your changing needs. But there are other benefits, which can be far more valuable.
Cloud storage makes disaster recovery significantly easier, and your data is backed-up offsite in a secure location. But there is also the additional security that most cloud storage providers can ensure. Many small businesses or remote offices use out-of-the-box solutions for data storage, which are typically much easier for hackers to gain access to. You can rest assured that these larger providers have a greater level of expertise protecting data than a local IT professional you have set up your system.
There are however some downsides to a cloud-based system. Although most cloud services providers have remarkably reliable uptime, you are in a sense, at their mercy. This shouldn’t raise too much concern, assuming you’ve done your due diligence selecting a provider, but you will want to consider this along with the urgency in which you need access to your data.
While cloud services provide a great storage solution, there is still likely a need for you to hold some of your most important or urgent data onsite. Despite the incredible security and uptime provided by most cloud storage systems, you should keep data that your business absolutely can’t run without in-house, as well as off-site. This redundancy will help you in the rare instance when unforeseen problems occur. Remember, this is your livelihood, and you should maintain control over the most vital pieces, especially when they can be secured so easily.
Integration between in-house and cloud storage doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. The “data-center-in-a-box” model is the perfect solution for most businesses. By combining all the hardware into a single unit, you get a solid platform that requires much less IT time to implement and configure for what data is stored in the cloud and what is backed-up on-site. These integrated servers are also ideal for keeping remote offices connected and consolidating most IT service at the home office.
So whether your company is starting to leverage data for deep analytics or simply needs to have a more secure and efficient data storage solution, in-house and cloud storage systems integrated by a “datacenter-in-a-box” style server can combine the benefits of cloud services and on-site storage without the downsides, and position you for future IT upgrades like expanded virtualization.
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