Overview

Benefits of cloud storage services

Cloud storage services solutions

IBM Cloud Object Storage

IBM Cloud Object Storage is an application-data archive and backup platform that offers persistent cloud storage and data encryption by default. Made for electronic records retention, it helps with regulatory compliance. 25 GB per month — no cost.

IBM Cloud Block Storage

This NFS-based file-share solution is feature rich, persistent and high performing. Get up to 12 TB of cloud storage with snapshot and replication support or IOPS allocations for demanding performance needs.

IBM Cloud File Storage

This NFS-based file-share solution is scalable and backed by flash. Endurance and custom performance provisioning tiers are available.

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage allows you to save data and files in an off-site location that you access either through the public internet or a dedicated private network connection. Data that you transfer off-site for storage becomes the responsibility of a third-party cloud provider. The provider hosts, secures, manages, and maintains the servers and associated infrastructure and ensures you have access to the data whenever you need it.

Cloud storage delivers a cost-effective, scalable alternative to storing files using on-premises hard drives or storage networks. Computer hard drives can only store a finite amount of data. When users run out of storage, they need to transfer files to an external storage device. Traditionally, organizations built and maintained storage area networks (SANs) to archive data and files. SANs are expensive to maintain, however, because as stored data grows, companies have to invest in adding servers and infrastructure to accommodate increased demand.

Cloud storage services provide elasticity, which means you can scale capacity as your data volumes increase or dial down capacity if necessary. By storing data in a cloud, your organization saves by paying for storage technology and capacity as a service, rather than investing in the capital costs of building and maintaining in-house storage networks. You pay for only exactly the capacity you use. While your costs might increase over time to account for higher data volumes, you don’t have to overprovision storage networks in anticipation of increased data volume.

How does cloud storage work?

Like on-premises storage networks, cloud storage uses servers to save data; however, the data is sent to servers at an off-site location. Most of the servers you use are virtual machines hosted on a physical server. As your storage needs increase, the provider creates new virtual servers to meet demand.

For more information on virtual machines, see “Virtual Machines: A Complete Guide.”

Typically, you connect to the storage cloud either through the internet or a dedicated private connection, using a web portal, website or a mobile app. The server with which you connect forwards your data to a pool of servers located in one or more data centers, depending on the size of the cloud provider’s operation.

As part of the service, providers typically store the same data on multiple machines for redundancy. This way, if a server is taken down for maintenance or suffers an outage, you can still access your data.

What are the benefits of cloud storage?

The pros of cloud storage include the following:

  • Off-site management: Your cloud provider assumes responsibility for maintaining and protecting the stored data. This frees your staff from tasks associated with storage, such as procurement, installation, administration and maintenance. As such, your staff can focus on other priorities.
  • Quick implementation: Using a cloud service accelerates the process of setting up and adding to your storage capabilities. With cloud storage, you can provision the service and start using it within hours or days, depending on how much capacity is involved.
  • Cost-effective: As mentioned, you pay for the capacity you use. This allows your organization to treat cloud storage costs as an ongoing operating expense instead of a capital expense with the associated up-front investments and tax implications.
  • Scalability: Growth constraints are one of the most severe limitations of on-premises storage. With cloud storage, you can scale up as much as you need. Capacity is virtually unlimited.
  • Business continuity: Storing data off-site supports business continuity in the event that a natural disaster or terrorist attack cuts access to your premises.

What is block storage versus file storage versus object storage?

Block storage

Traditionally employed in SANs, block storage is also common in cloud storage environments. In this storage model, data is organized into large volumes called “blocks." Each block represents a separate hard drive. Cloud storage providers use blocks to split large amounts of data among multiple storage nodes. Block storage resources provide better performance over a network thanks to low IO latency (the time it takes to complete a connection between the system and client) and are especially suited to large databases and applications.

Used in the cloud, block storage scales easily to support the growth of your organization’s databases and applications. Block storage would be useful if your website captures large amounts of visitor data that need to be stored.

Block Storage: A Complete Guide” provides a wealth of information on block storage.

File storage

The file storage method saves data in the hierarchical file and folder structure with which most of us are familiar. The data retains its format, whether residing in the storage system or in the client where it originates, and the hierarchy makes it easier and more intuitive to find and retrieve files when needed. File storage is commonly used for development platforms, home directories, and repositories for video, audio, and other files.

File Storage: A Complete Guide” provides a wealth of information on file storage.

 

Object storage

Object storage differs from file and block storage in that it manages data as objects. Each object includes the data in a file, its associated metadata and an identifier. Objects store data in the format it arrives in and makes it possible to customize metadata in ways that make the data easier to access and analyze. Instead of being organized in files or folder hierarchies, objects are kept in repositories that deliver virtually unlimited scalability. Because there is no filing hierarchy and the metadata is customizable, object storage allows you to optimize storage resources in a cost-effective way.

How can I get started with cloud storage?

IBM Cloud Storage offers a comprehensive suite of cloud storage services, including out-of-the-box solutions, components to create your own storage solution, and standalone and secondary storage.

Benefits of IBM Cloud solutions include:

  • Global reach
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility
  • Simplicity
     

Create an IBM Cloud account today to get started.

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Footnotes

¹Based on IBM-internal analysis of client data. Individual client results will vary.