Enterprises are under increasing pressure to manage the costs and logistics around an exploding volume of data. Much of that data is “copy data” – the byproduct of enterprise data management processes such as backups, snapshots, disaster recovery programs, and test/dev – which produces excess data that must be stored, often at high costs. As of 2013, IDC estimates that copy data is a $44 billion problem, prompting enterprises to pursue solutions to reduce and better manage it.

Developing a plan for stored data is complicated by the fact that a high proportion of enterprise data exists in a disparate set of storage solutions such as backup, analytics, disaster recovery, business continuity, compliance and test and development environments.  These often different point solutions make a comprehensive solution to the problem of copy data quite challenging to implement. Furthermore, they typically leverage legacy tape-based architectures and must be tightly integrated with the underlying storage hardware, resulting in copy after copy of virtually everything in production.

Driving Value through Storage as a Service

Storage as a Service options deliver the most value and extend beyond typical cloud storage solutions.

It helps companies store and manage data in an off-site data center, reducing the hardware and management costs and logistics of storing onsite. Additionally, the service provider can help customers architect their IT infrastructures and applications to securely and effectively migrate and recover the data from an offsite location.

To harness the opportunities of Storage as a Service, it is important for businesses to recognize that not all enterprise-class storage solutions are the same. Cloud-based Storage as a Service offers various advantages through simplifying the IT architecture, significantly reducing recovery times, and drastically cutting total costs of ownership by as much as 90 percent.

An example of an effective use of Storage as a Service can be seen in how medical offices store data. Medical records and data storage applications can be designed to integrate seamlessly with Storage as a Service. Following a patient’s visit, his or her medical data can be automatically migrated to an off-premise data center and programmed to be migrated back before the next appointment. This allows the data to be readily available without the medical office needing to store and manage patient information onsite.

Additionally, it is interesting to note that Storage as a Service is particularly valuable to enterprises with:

  • Multiple backup and storage needs for regular backups, snapshots, disaster recovery, business continuity and test and develop environments
  • Regulatory compliance requirements (e.g., healthcare, finance)
  • Heavy transaction environments (e.g., ecommerce)
  • Extended, mobile workforces, virtual working environments and partnerships that require extensive mobile file sharing and access
  • Growing enterprises that need on-demand scalability

Designing for Storage as a Service

If an enterprise’s applications are designed to operate in the cloud, it is much easier to architect and implement a Storage as a Service solution. It is worth acknowledging the concern of some enterprise IT leaders regarding the security and overall viability of a cloud solution ,including poor networks, upfront investments, bandwidth restrictions, immature technologies, binding subscriptions and contract terms, and concerns over performance, reliability, and security. When IT and business leaders take the time to deeply understand the value of Storage as a Service, they see that not only are these concerns mostly unfounded, but Storage as a Service offers a number of benefits, including faster data migration, a reduction of bandwidth requirements, increased operational efficiency, lower staffing requirements, and avoidance of costs associated with downtime. These benefits should prompt forward-looking IT managers to learn about and consider Storage as a Service for their business.