Home > Blogs > Are Data Clouds Better Than Sia's Thunderclouds?
Now, that title must have gotten you thinking, right? Data cloud and Sia’s Thunderclouds – now where does that come from? Come on! It’s just another way of showing the power of a data cloud storage. On a side note, before we step in further, if you haven’t heard of Sia’s Thunderclouds, check it out on YouTube!
Back to the topic, the term data cloud is nothing new. It’s something that has evolved over the years – from small storage devices like a floppy disk, compact disks, DVDs, hard drives, pen drives to store our data like pictures, videos, documents, etc., Given the size limitations, we were forced to invest in multiple storage devices with larger capacity. Fast forward to the millennium year (2000s), the term “Cloud” became so popular and viral that it started to raise everyone’s expectations. But what is a data cloud? Let’s dive in deeper to understand the concepts better.
What is the Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage, also referred to as Data Cloud, is a component of cloud computing to store user data on the internet. In layman terms, cloud storage is like a container where you can store your data. The difference from traditional storage systems is that the container is with some other third party on a off-site system. The primary means of connection between you and your data is the Internet. The best examples of cloud storage systems are the Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive and so on.
Cloud Storage is not Cloud Computing!
If you are thinking about cloud storage and cloud computing are the same, the answer is ‘NO’. Cloud Storage is storing your files and critical data on a storage space over the internet. The primary purpose of cloud storage is to maintain a backup of your data so that you don’t lose critical data in case of a local data server crash.
Cloud Computing is about having the memory and computing power available as a service to users. Cloud computing gives users the ability to work on the data at their will (say, to develop an application and so on). Depending on the requirement, users can purchase the computing power and memory as they need.
How does the Data Cloud work?
If you require a storage space on the cloud, you can purchase the storage space from the third party cloud vendor on a “pay for what you use” model. The vendor will take care of setting up the storage space, security, reliability and other aspects required to keep data safe. All you need is an Internet connection to store and access the data from the cloud storage.
Where is the data stored?
The answer is pretty straightforward: your data that is uploaded to the cloud resides on datacenters that have dedicated servers and storage volumes at a specific geographic location. These are known as “Server Farms” that have dedicated servers running 24x7x365. For example, you might be located in the UK, but your datacenter might be located either in the US, China or even in Australia. This is no big deal as long as you have an internet connection. Similarly, multiple datacenters exist all over the world! These data centers are owned by the companies referred to as “Cloud Service Providers” (CSP). For safety and redundancy reasons, CSPs take multiple copies of your data and store them across different datacenters “just for backup purposes” to ensure the data is not damaged due to any forceful act of nature or other means.
Is my data safe in the cloud?
Data security is something that bothers everyone! As long as the data is with you, you are confident of its existence. With cloud, since the data resides on some datacenter belonging to a random CSP, it’s obvious to get concerned of data safety.
Talking of data safety, as a cloud storage user, you must think of two factors before choosing a CSP – Security and Reliability. To ensure the safety of your data, make sure your CSP offers multi-factor secure authentication when accessing your data. If you need to share the data with your colleagues or friends, make sure you “never” give them the Write/Edit permissions. View/Read permissions are just perfect! On the reliability front, make sure you pick a CSP who offers the highest availability (say, with five or seven 9’s availability!) and offers redundancy to safeguard your data.
What makes data cloud stand out and the preferred choice?
Small, mid-size to even large organizations are increasingly adopting the cloud storage since they need larger capacity and an effective way to manage their storage costs. Having a local datacenter is proving to be too costly an investment for organizations. With the cloud, organizations take advantage of competitive pricing, elasticity and scalability depending on their business requirements. Here are the key factors that makes the cloud as the preferred storage choice for organizations –
1. Anywhere access of all data
With businesses shifting to the remote working culture which means employees can work from where they are – home, office, on the move etc., it’s important for the business to have the data stored in the cloud. With data on the cloud, all that is needed is an internet connection to access the files and put them back.
2. Realize cost savings
Opting for a cloud storage will cost very less when compared to setting up a storage infrastructure within the premises. Businesses save on the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) on buying the infrastructure and setting it up. As a consequence, businesses also start realising savings on their Operational Expenses (OPEX) with cloud providers only charging a few dollars for GB of storage space.
3. Effective Collaboration
With cloud storage, most services offered by vendors allow users to collaborate while working so that they can work efficiently. For example, let’s consider Google Drive – once you upload the file to Google Drive, the file gets synced across all the devices that are running under the same account. As a result, you always work on the latest version of the document. Talk about versioning, you can also easily roll back to the previous version in a single click!
4. Avoid Data Loss
Data loss is something that’s tough to swallow, especially in the case of businesses. A study by Gartner shows that when a business suffers a major data loss, almost 43% of them immediately go out of business! That’s not all. About 51% of the remaining business pull out within the next 2 years. That’s how critical data loss is for an organization.
The solution for this problem is to have backups of the data. But creating multiple backups of backups on a local infrastructure simply bloats the storage space and the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. The solution is to move to a cloud storage. Even if a data loss happens, your CSP can recover data from one of the redundant backups. Even if a file is accidentally deleted on your local storage by mistake, you can download the latest version from the cloud storage and sync it across all the devices.
Examples of Data Clouds
There are a number of cloud service providers and the number is definitely on the rise. Over the last few years, as the demand for cloud storage has increased and due to the fierce competition between the vendors, the prices of storage has come down significantly. Few of the popular providers offer up to a few Gigabytes of free storage after which you must register to one of their pricing subscription models. Let’s take a look at the different types of data clouds –
1. Google Drive, iCloud, One Drive, Dropbox, Box, and so on – These are the popular cloud storage applications offered by Google, Apple, Microsoft and other leading brands. With Google Docs, you can create and store documents, presentations, spreadsheets directly on Google’s servers. You can collaborate with your team members so that you can visualize the changes directly as they work on the file.
2. Websites like Gmail, Yahoo, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa – They have their own servers to store user emails, videos and photos.
3. Hosting providers like GoDaddy, Bluehost – They offer storage space for users to store the files and data for their websites.
Now let’s ask the question again – “Are Data Clouds better than Sia's Thunderclouds?” The answer is a definite YES, especially after knowing about the power of data clouds and their importance. Cloud storage does not require huge investments and offers several advantages when compared with traditional data storage.
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