Considering moving your data to a cloud platform? Though there’s plenty of enthusiasm for the cloud, it also has its fair share of detractors. As with any business decision, careful consideration of benefits vs. risk can help you to evaluate and determine whether the cloud is a good fit for you. We’ve outlined what we feel are cloud storage’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses in the hopes that it will help you navigate the decision-making process.

First, let’s look at the Pros:

Cloud storage, overall, has a far lower initial price tag when compared to a traditional data storage model. Because storage occurs remotely, a host of costs can be avoided altogether. Servers and the staff required to manage their function, maintenance, and repair are rendered obsolete. You are relieved completely of equipment management and the costs associated with it. Hardware upgrades are handled entirely by the cloud provider, with minimal disruption to you. Moving to cloud storage can also free up physical space that may have previously been occupied by data warehousing. Depending on the size of your business, these savings can range from moderate to tremendous.

Many cloud enthusiasts tout the ability to access files from anywhere as the cloud model’s greatest strength. What was once only possible in certain locations and with specific equipment is now achievable anywhere with practically any device. Data retrieval is no longer a hassle dependent on outside factors, but nearly effortless.

With traditional data storage, when capacity is reached, and more space is required, more hardware must be purchased. When data is housed in the cloud, storage capacity can be adjusted instantaneously, and you pay only for the storage you use. This ability to tailor storage solutions to your individual corporation’s needs makes the model extremely attractive – especially if you enjoy keeping your budget lean. Admittedly, there is an incurred cost with increased cloud storage, but the transition is quick and totally seamless. The cloud’s scalabilty also means storage can be instantaneously decreased. The same cannot be said for the alternative.

Along with equipment management, maintenance, and upgrades, backup also takes place offsite. Knowing that your data is regularly backed up by professionals with rigorous standards can alleviate the pressure to perform backups in-house, and can provide peace of mind that they are done frequently, and to strict protocol. This is an excellent way to ensure important data is saved.

Is cloud storage sounding like a perfect fit? There are a few cons to consider as well:

Though initial cost savings in equipment and maintenance costs may be attractive, the lifetime projected costs of a cloud storage model may actually surpass those of traditional data storage. Increased storage, along with rising subscription costs are factors to consider when evaluating the cost benefit potential for your business. Many proponents of the cloud-based model believe the conveniences of remote data storage justify the increased costs over time, particularly since the initial period of usership, when most business are operating within a limited budget, presents a significant savings opportunity.

Depending on your specific industry, regulations regarding compliance may disqualify cloud storage as a viable option. Financial and healthcare sectors adhere to strict privacy guidelines, and certain data sets are legally required to be stored off-cloud. If a large part of your customer base includes entities from these sectors, or if your own business is based in a highly regulated field, the cloud model would not be a viable option.

Critics of the cloud tend to stress that security concerns are its biggest detriment. When you place your data in anyone else’s hands, it’s no longer in your control, and no longer under your protection. Reputable providers are not difficult to find, but fundamentally understanding that you’re providing a third party with sensitive data, and that it could ultimately put you at risk is an important fact to acknowledge.

Hopefully you found these considerations helpful. Whether it’s evaluating your current setup, or recommending remote storage providers, North Shore Data Services is here to support you. Give us a call at (978) 988-0201 when you’re ready to talk.