Cloud Storage: 6 Things Your Business Needs Consider

Category: Cloud Tags:
July 18, 2017
Cloud Computing SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, Azure

Cloud Storage for Business: 6 Things You Need to Consider
By Geoff Bourgeois

Here are the six things you need to consider before leveraging cloud storage for your unstructured data challenges:

#1 – Where is your data in cloud storage?

Depending on where you are and what industry you’re in, data residency issues with cloud storage can be a top concern. Organizations typically want their data stored in the same country they operate within.

When working with your cloud storage provider you should have an open discussion about the physical location(s) of your data in the cloud. Solutions based on public cloud providers can provide the best options. For instance, Microsoft is now up to 28 data center regions where they operate Azure from.

#2 – Will you have noisy neighbors?

Is your cloud archive subscription provisioned in a multi-tenant architecture, or will you be configured with single tenancy? Multi-tenancy is modus operandi for the majority of SaaS applications, but I don’t like it for enterprise cloud storage. That’s because the noisy neighbor scenario is too likely. Imagine another customer with a 700 terabyte archive running a massive content indexing job – and this impacts the performance for you and others. No thanks.

Single tenancy is the way to go for enterprise SaaS cloud storage scenarios. It’s more expensive this way because it means paying for dedicated resources, but that’s how you ensure performance consistency and best protect your data. Single tenancy is secure by default; whereas, multi-tenant approaches require an added layer of software complexity to make the multi-tenant model secure.

#3 – What if you decide to cancel and need to get your data out?

As you look ahead to leveraging cloud storage, you need to watch out for vendors that put hefty cancellation fees in their agreements. And you need to understand the process for getting your data back.

It’s unfortunate, but many IT leaders have endured hard lessons when it comes to migrating large volumes of unstructured data. And proprietary systems like content management and enterprise archives didn’t consider bulk extraction scenarios (that’s why there’s a niche market of companies specializing in data migrations today).

Tony Redmond recently called for an “open archive API” that would help organizations move their data between archiving and cloud storage providers. I like the idea, but I also think cloud storage needs to include native features that make it intuitive for a customer to perform self-service bulk extraction. As a customer, you should be able to pull any amount of your data out whenever you need, and not be reliant on the vendor or some custom development or third-party tool using an arcane API.

As for costs and logistics with bulk extraction, expect to incur some data transfer (aka. egress) fees at a minimum. Data transfer costs can be significant if you’re looking at pulling out a large-scale amount of data (but still much less expensive than specialized migration software and services).

Obviously a large amount of storage is going to take some time to extract from the cloud. See if your cloud storage vendor offers an option to extract to a basic cloud storage container, or maybe they can physically ship the data to you and perform the extraction and shortcut rehydration behind your firewall. In all of this, there may be an element of professional services, but look for cloud archiving that has most of this sorted out in software (native features in a simple interface).

#4 – How will you meet discovery obligations?

Running searches, placing data on legal hold, creating and managing cases, and performing collection should be entry-level features in any cloud storage service. Unfortunately, that’s not reality: You usually have to be at the vendor’s top-tier pricing package to access their discovery features (if they even offer them).

With a cloud storage approach that’s based purely on a consumption pricing model, your discovery costs won’t come from an arbitrary pricing tier, but you should expect to see additional costs associated with content indexing to support any discovery searching. If you have a large amount of data storage in the cloud, look for search-as-a-service that can be deployed on-demand and controlled through indexing policies so that you can have search when you need it, and index only target portions of your cloud storage.

#5 – What can you do to manage your data in the cloud?

Data management is the red-headed stepchild of IT. And the records management community has long been MIA. Despite your organization not having its information management policies nailed down, you should still look for a solid suite of data management controls in your cloud storage. The need to manage your data can arise at any time, for various reasons, so look for things like the ability to manage retention policies, identify private and sensitive data, apply tagging policies, and even impose data loss prevention (DLP) controls.

#6 – Can you easily report on user and system activities?

Last but not least, you should consider your needs for auditing data (aka. activity intelligence): You might need it for an investigation, an HR issue, or for security reasons. Either way, the ability to access and export a detailed history of activities by user, folder, or item is something many IT professionals have had to deal with.

Many products have been developed over the years to help with this, but unfortunately they won’t be able to tell you anything about the data in your cloud storage. That’s why your cloud storage approach needs to natively provide activity auditing. Auditing should be an always-on feature — something that you don’t need to think about. And the audit data should be exposed through a self-service interface, with easy controls for filtering and exporting.


Cloud storage for business should be convenient. There shouldn’t be surprises. And your data should never be held hostage.

To achieve these goals, the reality is that you need to find a software solution to simplify cloud storage. You’ll need to overcome challenges related to synchronizing or moving data from existing storage into the cloud. You’ll need an easy approach for getting your data out. And you’ll need to manage your data in the cloud. A software solution that brings this together without added complexity and contractual lock-in is required if you want cloud storage to be simple for your business.

Geoff is co-founder and CEO at HubStor, the world’s first data aware cloud storage solution for business.

HubStor provides active archiving and searchable cloud storage to enterprise clients in North America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa from Azure data center regions located around the globe. HubStor is partnered with Microsoft and is a member of the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance.

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