For every proponent of public cloud storage, it seems that there are always opponents ready to shut out public cloud storage. For organizations planning to migrate data to the cloud, there seems to be a potential cloud nightmare. Cloud storage naturally has its advantages and disadvantages. This paper mainly expounds its advantages from the aspects of off-site management, network connectivity, backup speed, deployment, scalability, storage technology and early-stage cost, and carefully analyzes its disadvantages such as lifetime cost, security, download and data transmission speed, compliance and impact on adjacent users.

There is no doubt that many people have been discussing the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing storage. For every proponent of public cloud storage, it seems that there are always opponents ready to shut out public cloud storage. For organizations planning to migrate data to the cloud, there seems to be a potential cloud nightmare. So what is the real story? Is cloud computing good or bad? Like clouds in the sky, the answer is rarely black or white. When people look up at the cloudy sky, they will find a lot of gray clouds. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of cloud storage.

Advantages of cloud storage: in short, the advantages of cloud storage lie in scalability, offsite management, rapid deployment, and lower upfront costs. In addition, in a world that always needs more storage capacity, cloud storage provides unlimited additional capacity.

(1) Off site management: cloud computing can realize off-site online storage without physical maintenance. This allows the organization to focus on other priorities, especially if it has a good relationship with reliable suppliers at a reasonable cost. “In some cases, cloud computing providers can provide services such as backup, data protection, security and other projects, and management.” Greg Schulz, an analyst at storageio group, said, “organizations can transfer some physical onsite storage management tasks (including collection, setup and configuration) to the cloud.”

(2) Network connectivity. Gary Watson, vice president of technology engagement at nexsan, pointed out that one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that it allows users to freely share and access data at any time, anywhere and on any device. “Cloud computing connects modern enterprises in ways that enterprise storage solutions have never been able to.” Watson said, “with the right cloud storage, enterprises can benefit from operational efficiency, business flexibility, time to market, competitive advantage, and cost reduction.”

(3) The backup speed is fast. The test conducted by mediatronics shows that when cloud computing is supported by appropriate enterprise technology, the speed achieved can be comparable to that of on-site processing in the data center. By providing 1GBIT transmission pipeline, mediatronics found that enterprises can use 15 servers to back up data at the same time, and use zetta Net service transfers and backs up 75 TB of data in the cloud. This is very similar to backing up to disk. Mediatronics is zetta Net incremental backup transmission record data transmission rate is 975mb/ s. This is faster than the storage speed of 5400 RPM mechanical hard disk (800mb/ s), and is very close to the access speed of 7200 RPM mechanical hard disk (1064mb/ s).

(4) For rapid deployment, Kevin Liebl, vice president of marketing of zadara storage, believes that the public cloud bypasses the traditional method of adding storage: assessing storage needs, requesting bids from suppliers, product selection, purchase orders, waiting for delivery, and assembling various storage assets to answer questions about how long it may take to access more storage.

(5) Extensibility, extensibility is another area of public cloud rules. Various providers have done a good job in providing large amounts of storage capacity. Liebl said, “you can get almost unlimited capacity and usually scalable performance in the public cloud.”

(6) Storage technology is kept up to date. Storage managers usually purchase flash storage arrays or large tape libraries for storage. They looked so cutting-edge at the time, but did their high prices really achieve the promised return on investment? In many cases, the answer is No. The public cloud provides a way to avoid the risk of buying, and quickly goes beyond storage hardware. Users only pay for the capacity and performance they need, and vendors upgrade their environments to keep up with the latest technology – caused by competitive pressures from other vendors. “The public cloud provides updates and upgrades of storage technologies, because users’ storage components are upgraded in the background, and their storage technologies will not become obsolete in a few years.” Liebl said.

(7) Reducing up front costs, assessing, purchasing, building, configuring, and managing storage can be an expensive business. In many cases, a large amount of storage capacity of an organization is idle. Usually, enterprises with peak periods will eventually purchase enough storage and performance to meet peak requirements, but they do not need storage and IO devices 95% of the time. “The public cloud allows users to pay for the content they use, with reports to monitor their spending and storage usage, as well as input and output activities.” Schulz said.

Disadvantages of cloud storage: in a word, the disadvantages of cloud storage mainly focus on compliance, overall life cycle cost, security concerns and speed issues. If data sets are critical to the continued existence of an organization, they are usually not stored only in the cloud.

(1) Lifetime cost, taking automobile as an example, automobile can provide a useful pricing analogy. The initial cost of a new car is very high. The monthly expenses began to look great. But after a few years, and then have to pay too much maintenance costs, lifetime costs will come. Public cloud storage may be the same. Once the user has calculated the cost for more than three or five years, will it really be lower than the operation cost of the data center? For some people, the answer is No. “The cost of the public cloud may increase over time,” Schulz said. “If the user’s application is running in the local data center and his data is in the cloud, it will increase network costs and lead to increased latency.”

(2) Security: when organizations transfer data to public cloud providers, security and privacy issues will arise. The media have reported many data breaches of public cloud services. A survey conducted by nexsan shows that only about 3% of the respondents believe that sharing files outside the office is private and safe. “Never store any sensitive content in the public cloud.” Watson said.

Dave Ginsburg, chief marketing officer of teridion, stressed the security concerns of the public cloud, such as management permissions (internal and external), suppliers’ access to users’ files for marketing and encryption, intellectual property confidentiality, transmission and synchronization on WiFi, multiple public cloud providers, accidental deletion on shared drives, and the lack of clear audit trails.

(3) Slow download and data transmission. Another potential disadvantage of public cloud storage is slow download and data speed (i.e. bandwidth). Although cloud storage has achieved some good results in the benchmark test, in the nexsan survey, 22% of respondents said that the main obstacle to public cloud storage is the time required to download and upload files.

(4) Compliance. In some industries under strict supervision, it is not feasible to use public cloud. Considering the security of public cloud, healthcare, financial services and listed companies must be very cautious about its adoption. “The regulatory compliance of these public cloud solutions can be very difficult and requires special attention.” Watson said, “if third parties and many jurisdictions have storage / data, this may become a bigger problem.”

(5) Influencing adjacent users is the most concerned issue of IT managers. A cloud application or a user with high IO traffic will affect the performance of another user. “Where possible, it managers should adopt the services of cloud storage providers that can provide resource isolation to avoid mixing with other data.” Liebl said.

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