Technology makes it easier than ever to accumulate data and harder to decide how to preserve it all. Do-it-yourself storage means investing in hardware and choosing a physical location for it. Farming out the job means trusting a third party to take care of it and make it easily available.
Businesses are turning to cloud computing at a fast rate, but it might not be the top choice for everybody. The cloud basically means relying on someone else’s servers for some combination of data storage, operating systems and applications. Research analyst International Data Corp. measured revenue from public information technology cloud services at $72.9 billion by 2015.
The advantage for small and medium-size businesses is being able to buy the capacity only as needed. With cloud computing, a business like that “can dial up a 20-lane highway of network capacity for its two busiest hours of the day, and scale back to two lanes of capacity for the other 22 hours,” said Steven Ostrowski, spokesman for the Computing Technology industry Association in Downers Grove, Ill. “The pay-as-you-go cloud model eliminates the startup costs associated with purchasing, maintaining and upgrading new IT hardware and software.”
Not every business as its head in the cloud. If you lose your internet connection, you are dead in the water: Contracts should spell out how much downtime is acceptable, and what happens if the provider exceeds it.
Then there’s the question of moving data back and forth. If the data changes a lot from day to day, it can take a lot of time to update files stored off-site. Robb Moore, CEO of IoSafe Inc. in Auburn, suggest asking a third-party provider whether it will even accept a terabyte.
Depending on the connection, “It could take three to six months to push it up to the cloud, and it would take about the same amount of time to pull it back,” he said.
Let’s go to the Tape
Data storage can still involve old fashion media such as magnetic tape stored on a shelf. Some tapes can hold 500 GB’s, said Rob Rets, vice president of DataSafe. Putting a tape in a warehouse is much cheaper than storing it online, he said. For data that won’t change often and doesn’t need to be reviewed frequently, it might be the most practical storage option.
Data storage still also involves a good amount of old fashioned paper (Remember paper?) “A lot pager storage is for original documents, especially in the legal field,” Reis said. The amount in storage hasn’t changed much in recent years, though customers retrieve it less often now, most likely because they have electronic copies somewhere else, he said.
Data storage should never be a single solution, said IoSafe’s Moore. His company encourages customers to take a 3-2-1 approach: Keep at least three copies of data, on a least two different devices, one of which is either disaster proof or off-site. Moore keeps five copies of his own data.
The idea is that if the primary data storage fails, a company will have at least one backup. And if the backup fails, the company should still have the primary source.
“The one day you forget to take it off site will be the day you have the fire” Moore said. “It’s just Murphy’s Law coming into play.”
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