Data Storage: A Look at 3 Main Types & Determining Which is Best for Your Business

I remember when I first started my business several years ago, one of the last things on my mind was how I would store data.

As Click Intelligence started to grow (and files started piling up on my laptop), I quickly learned I could no longer get away with using my little flash drives as back-up storage.

According to information technology and research company Gartner, 43 percent of companies were immediately put out of business by a “major loss” of computer records and another 51 percent permanently closed their doors within two years.

There are three main types of data storage on the market: cloud-based, server-based (also known as hyper-convergence), and traditional. No matter how old your business is, it’s important to understand what your data storage options are and use them accordingly.

Related Article: Security First: How to Keep Your Clients’ Data Safe on the Cloud

1. Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is simply offsite computing that holds your data for you to access anytime, anywhere. The idea of cloud computing in the form of an “intergalactic computer network” was introduced in 1969 and has seen big milestones since, noted Computer Weekly.

“People like the cloud because it seems like magic,” said Anthony R. Howard, best-selling author of the “Invisible Enemy: Black Fox” and technology expert. “I use the term automagic when referring to the cloud because the end user doesn’t have to do anything such as make any type of updates; all your storage headaches are someone else’s when you use a cloud.”

Other benefits of the cloud include flexibility, disaster recovery, automatic software updates, increased collaboration, and a “pay-as-you-go” affordable pricing structure. On the downside, Howard advises being cautious of security and compliance risks: “You don’t know where your data is being stored which could be an issue for some industries.”

While security breaches have remained low, especially in one industry where privacy is a must, there’s always that risk: HIMSS, a thought leader of health transformation through health IT in a survey found that just 2.4 percent of respondents had a data breach with their cloud provider.

Is cloud computing right for your business? It has certainly gained buzz over the past few years. It’s now as ordinary as clouds in the sky, wrote Business.com contributor Ashley Unitt. Ideal candidates for it include businesses:

  • With smaller budgets.
  • That might need to expand storage usage.
  • Need the flexibility to increase or reduce costs and storage as needed.
  • Don’t want to have to worry about maintenance. 
  • That need collaboration among team members.

Related Article: More Info, More Problems: Privacy and Security Issues in the Age of Big Data

2. Server Based (Hyper Convergence)

Server-based or the more recently referred to as hyper-convergence storage, is data stored within individual servers at a data center, typically on your business site. Businesses with the budget for it can appreciate their speed and in-house control. With hyper-convergence, you have different servers and your data is striped across them.

“The idea behind hyper-convergence is to abstract other layers of infrastructure for simplicity and elasticity. Software-defined networking (SDN) brings the benefits of standardization to network virtualization and reduces costs in hardware and management layers,” reported Information Week.

Due to the high price tag (upwards of 75K according to our expert) and physical space needed, a small business would not be your typical hyper-convergence candidate. Businesses with bigger budgets who can afford to store it and manage it in-house are typically better fits. Despite that tag, hyper-convergence can streamline management and drive down expenses, BizTech cites. The article added: …”It also provides a fast and cost-effective way to escape an overcomplicated monstrosity of an infostructure that has been created over time.”

3. Traditional Storage Systems

Traditional storage is commonly used as a backup method to the cloud. For security purposes, it can be usually only be accessed while signed onto the Internet connection of which it’s stored. It would show up on your computer as a separate area network you might see an e, f, or g drive on your computer. “It’s easy to manage and people are very used to it,” said Howard. “You dump your storage on it and that’s it. If people need more storage, you add more discs. The discs can be deleted, overwritten, and duplicated as needed.”

Key benefits include:

  • Affordability
  • Faster data access time
  • Scalability

Related Article: Cloud Crash Course: Cloud Storage Application Platforms vs. Enterprise Cloud Storage

There are two main ways to purchase traditional storage systems: buy a storage area network from a technology vendor (Dell, EMC, etc.) or go out to your local technology products store and buy network attached storage (NAS). If you have a small business, Howard notes that the small network attached storage should work fine and cost less than $500 but it might not last long and if it goes down, you’ll have to hire someone to fix it.

Let me know which data storage technology you end up going with.

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