Hosting and Storage- Cloud or On Premises Solutions?
There’s been a ton of discussion on whether hosting your data in the cloud, or hosting your data on premises is best for individual computing and business needs. This blog won’t settle the issue, but we’ll offer suggestions on when one might suit you better than the other. Regardless of whether we’re talking about personal or business, your individual requirements ultimately determine what will serve you best. To keep it focused, we’ll limit this blog to a discussion of personal and small business use.
Since the mid-2000s, cloud storage has been gaining momentum as a great choice for saving and sharing pictures and files. Low startup and maintenance costs are a huge attraction to cloud solutions. However, some businesses and personal users have deep concerns about the increasing number of attacks on cloud-based data. No doubt, cloud storage of business related documents and personal information is in the crosshairs of hackers and mischief-makers. Confidence issues and mistrust in cloud hosting security are still influencing the direction some businesses choose to go. Buying enough security levels to set the skiddish customer at ease adds cost. That’s one reason why a lot of companies still using on premises solutions haven’t made the move to cloud services yet. However, we believe that confidence in cloud security will continue to strengthen.
Adding expensive (and sometimes unnecessary) special features can drive cloud storage costs higher for personal use or business computing. Those costs can vary quite a bit, based on special features you might want to add on. Tailored security, how you want to share data, selecting unique configurations, increasing Internet connection speeds, and bandwidth requirements can add substantially to your monthly fees. If your business or personal computing requirements involve moving huge files or massive downloads, your system speed will rely heavily on having enough bandwidth and connections to avoid choke points. In those cases, significant upcharges for excessive bandwidth requirements could be prohibitive and leave on premises hosting as the only affordable option for some.
Regarding backups, the on premises option may still be a bit faster and offer more direct control over security. Cloud backups are definitely limited by Internet connection speed and bandwidth. It’s safe to say that when evaluating cloud service operating costs, there’s more to consider than just the amount of storage. The good news is that cloud services are so competitive that these costs are coming down rapidly.
The best argument for selecting personal cloud storage is that there are a lot of free options. You can do free test drives on many cloud providers and find reasonable pricing if you want more storage. If you just want to store and share pictures and medium-sized files, here are a few good “no cost” choices:
- Google Drive offers up to 15GB of free storage space with easy editing available, and it’s a great way to share pictures and data with your family and friends.
- Dropbox, which many people consider the best, offers 2GB of easily accessible free storage space. The cost of additional space and is very affordable as well.
- OneDrive gives away 15GB of free storage and works very well with both Macs and PCs. It has great options for sharing and if you purchase Microsoft Office 365, you get 1TB of free storage with all the apps in the Office package.
- Box offers 10GB of free personal storage, although the size you can upload is restricted to files less than 250MB. Box is most popular with businesses because of the file sharing features and options for additional tailored security.
There are plenty of other free cloud storage offers available. Many of them, including some of the choices listed above, offer ways to earn more free storage. For personal use, cloud computing is a clear overall winner! Try a cloud solution for free before making any purchases.
For business use, cloud computing is clearly the way ahead, if it isn’t the best option for your company right now. In addition to having fewer direct costs, cloud solutions provide increased reliability. Time offline is time your business isn’t making money and that has to be factored in if you are doing online sales, providing services or any activity that translates lost time directly into lost money. Even if your business isn’t driven by sales, down time negatively affects efficiency, and will create overhead in one way or another.
Additional free cloud space for small to medium sized business (or even individuals with a lot of storage needs) follow:
- Amazon Web Services offers a “Free Tier”, which includes 5GB of S3 free for a year. S3 allows end users (both individuals and businesses) to upload their files and store them in AWS. Includes the ability to encrypt at rest, API/SDK access for businesses to create apps based on the S3 service (Dropbox is solely using S3 to store their customers data). For more info checkout: http://aws.amazon.com/free/
- Microsoft Azure offers a $200 credit to spend on all services during the trial period: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/
- Google Compute Engine offers a $300 credit toward a 60-day trial of their cloud services. This includes access to provision servers and object storage. For more info visit: https://cloud.google.com/
If you’re not ready to jump into cloud services completely, we think selecting a hybrid solution is a solid decision for personal use and especially for businesses. We can’t ignore that there could be relatively high costs to move large business files from hard drives to cloud service. One way to tackle that expense is to consider starting all new business activity in the cloud and retain your current and previous business on your hard drives. A second way: Possibly migrating your business data in chunks or distinct phases. This way you can set the date to be completely in the cloud, and at the same time free up bandwidth for users in the office-without uploading everything at once.
The way cloud hosting is trending, prices are going down and adequate security is becoming the standard. To help estimate the cost of services, a few calculators are listed below:
Amazon Web Services (updated in real-time): http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html
Microsoft Azure calculator: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/
Google Compute Engine has a calculator as well: https://cloud.google.com/products/calculator/
Even though many people are a little squeamish about the safety of standard cloud security and privacy packages, it’s hard to resist having great cloud features like access anywhere from a number of devices, pay as you go options, synchronized team files, automatic backups, and no start-up costs.
For personal use, if you have a lot of special files already stored on your hard drive(s), retain the files you have on your hard drives and take advantage of low or no cost cloud options for additional files. This makes the transition to cloud storage much easier and less costly. So for those sitting on the fence, the hybrid option is probably the best bet.
If you’re unsure about what choice is best for your business needs, contact us for a personalized evaluation. Raven Solutions will engage best practices with years of experience in finding the most affordable and efficient option for your storage or hosting requirements. Thanks for checking us out.