Cloud storage is exactly what it sounds like – storage in the cloud. It’s a service that lets you store terabytes of information on another’s server. Cloud storage is usually located in a data center, so your websites and file transfers are faster. In some cases, the cloud host is faster than your local network transfer rates.
There are several advantages to cloud storage over local network drives. First, it’s always available to you. You don’t need to log in to the network or a VPN. Just hop on any Wi-Fi or wireless connection and you have your files available to you over the Internet. Cloud storage also has fewer storage space limitations, since these servers span multiple machines across several drives. Ultimately, cloud storage has an unlimited amount of space where it would be extremely costly for you to manage the data storage space within your own network.
Cloud storage comes in three flavors: public, private and hybrid. A public host makes its services available to the public, so they can access files from anywhere. A private cloud keeps files behind a firewall and is usually open only to people who are authorized to access the local network. A hybrid cloud is a combination of both methodologies. Most large enterprises have a hybrid cloud architecture.
For small to midsize businesses, a private cloud is sometimes used to customize applications and platforms. However, some public cloud providers offer customizations and the ability to use plugins with the cloud environment. Public cloud providers are good for unstructured data, storing documents and photos, and sharing files among a group or team members.
Cloud storage is also used for software as a service (SaaS). Instead of relying on expensive network hardware stored in-house, companies could deploy their software to the cloud where they could rely on data centers to back up, run, and support thousands of users. This was beneficial for companies that could support an application 24/7 and have guaranteed uptime. Now, with the cloud companies can host applications and API programs on remote cloud servers from anywhere in the world.
Cloud storage and its services are allowing even small businesses to build robust, useful apps that service thousands of users. If you want to move away from the heavy cost burden of expensive in-house servers, the cloud is an affordable, scalable solution for small, medium and large businesses.