Cloud Storage: Which to Choose?

choosing cloud storageOur data is expanding rapidly, not only in terms of personal use but also when it comes to work too. As our music collections, photos and home videos grow, we’ve expanded our hard drives and bought external USB drives.

In business, the need for data retention is even greater; we are archiving not just past projects but millions of emails, Tweets, instant messages and a lot more all to meet regulatory requirements and business continuity. In the past, that meant having banks of storage arrays and tape archiving for both SME’s & Enterprise sized business.

In recent years, the maturity of cloud storage solutions has allowed us to stop buying more equipment to store our data and switch to the specialist providers who can store our data for us and allow us to access it in an instant from any location in the world.

For personal users the brand getting the most buzz is Dropbox. Running on Windows, Linux, Mac and Mobile. It was the early front runner of personal cloud storage and can also sync a copy of your data to any machine you so desire and as many machines as you want.

It is probably the simplest of the personal cloud storage solutions to use and, dare we say it, has the best features available. However, it is not as cheap per Gigabyte of storage as say Google Drive or Microsoft’s SkyDrive. Microsoft, Dropbox & Google, the major players in the personal cloud storage space offer up free usage of varying amounts of space so you can dip your toe in the water to see which one suits you best. Apple’s iCloud is limited to users who have the hardware so there is a vendor lock in at work. But it is rare to hear Apple users complain about this.

There are obviously lots more small players in the personal cloud storage space but we expect to see the market consolidate as users opt for identifiable brands with a rich set of tools.

Now you have sorted out your own personal storage and you’re loving the ease of use of the cloud you’re ready to start moving your business data to cloud storage. Who are you going to choose and what additional considerations come into play?

There are many more established providers such as IBM, Red Hat and Amazon operating in the SME & Enterprise space for cloud storage alongside the major players mentioned above and the more dedicated Cloud service providers. Rackspace and Memstore are two such dedicated Cloud service providers. Both are developing their own tools and are involved in the OpenStack initiative so for those concerned with proprietary API vendor lock in then they are definitely worth checking out.

All of the Cloud Storage providers are becoming very competitive on price as the market matures when you compare the costs of running your storage internally. So while price is important, other factors will affect your decision on which supplier to go with.

Available tools that suit your needs will be a factor as will the small print which must be checked for; data ownership, liability when things go wrong, continuity, location of data centres, and how local laws are applied on data governance and who can request access.

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