Pros and cons of cloud storage

Easy scalability and pay-per-usage pricing are two of the draws of enterprise cloud storage. Potential drawbacks include management complexity and security concerns.

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Ivanastar / Getty Images / Sam Schooler

Everything seems to be moving to the cloud these days, so what about storage? Is it time to unplug those expensive data center storage appliances and migrate all of that data to the cloud?

The answer: It's more complicated than you might think.

While cloud storage offers many advantages over on-premises data storage – scalability at the push of a button (up or down), accessibility from any device at any location, pay-per-usage pricing – there are some potential drawbacks as well.

Security and privacy issues inevitably come up when enterprises consider whether to entrust a public cloud services provider with information that could be damaging to the company in the event of a data breach. Performance is another issue, particularly when it comes to applications that require low latency. Managing data when it's locked up in your data center is by definition easier than managing data scattered across multiple geographic availability zones of a single cloud storage provider, or even scattered across multiple providers. And vendor lock-in is certainly a concern when you're talking about moving terabytes of data.

David Friend, CEO and co-founder of cloud storage vendor Wasabi Technologies, estimates that around 80% of enterprise storage is still on-premises, but he predicts that within 10 years, most data will be in the public cloud. "The business of running a storage farm yourself makes less and less sense," Friend says. IDC analyst Andrew Smith agrees. "The expectation is that more and more capacity will be stored in the public cloud," he says.

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