Cloud Storage, NAS or Both?



The simultaneous explosions of big data and mobility have organizations scrambling to figure out the best way to store and backup data. While the amount of data being produced and the number of devices being used has skyrocketed, storage and backup strategies haven’t been able to keep up. This can have a significant impact on performance, productivity, customer service and disaster recovery.

There are two primary storage options for small to midsize businesses:

Cloud-based storage has emerged as an appealing option because capital expenses are minimal and storage management becomes the responsibility of the cloud service provider. The provider is responsible for purchasing, maintaining and updating the storage infrastructure. By storing and backing up data remotely, organizations can avoid the cost of constantly adding storage capacity while improving disaster recovery. However, latency and bandwidth issues are common drawbacks of the cloud, especially with the high-performance demands of primary storage.

Network-attached storage (NAS) is a storage appliance that has its own IP address and is connected to the network. Initially used for file sharing and storage, modern NAS devices are used as multimedia, print, email and database servers. Wired Ethernet connectivity enables high performance, although wireless accessibility is rare with NAS. To enhance disaster recovery, NAS products can be configured for data backup and monitoring, and a failing disk drive can be “hot-swapped” with a new drive without shutting down the NAS.

There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating cloud storage and NAS:

  • Cost. NAS typically costs more upfront because you have to purchase, install and configure the device, and you’ll probably have to purchase larger hard drives or add more hard drives. Without careful planning, you could end up buying more than you need. The ongoing monthly cost of cloud storage tends to be more expensive, but you’ll never have to purchase more hardware.
  • Capacity. The cloud offers virtually unlimited storage capacity. When you need more storage, you upgrade your plan. While NAS does allow for hard drives to be replaced or added, each hard drive does have finite capacity.
  • Features and Expertise. As mentioned previously, NAS devices have an impressive list of valuable features and capabilities. On the other hand, cloud storage enables you to tap into other cloud-based solutions such as compression and de-duplication, both of which can improve storage efficiency. You can also take advantage of a cloud service provider’s expertise and around-the-clock service.
  • Security and Control. NAS uses encryption tools and user access controls to secure your data and enables you to host and control your own data. This can be a double-edged sword as data security requires significant IT resources and expertise. With the cloud, data is protected by the provider’s enterprise-class security system and backed up several times in different geographic locations. Security is the responsibility of the provider, but this requires you to trust an outside party with your data.

Instead of choosing between cloud storage and NAS, you may want to consider a hybrid approach. For example, mission-critical data that is accessed and modified most often can be stored in a NAS device, while archival data is stored in the cloud. Many vendors have either developed hybrid solutions or partnered with other vendors to offer hybrid solutions.

Developing an efficient storage strategy without compromising performance is as complicated as it is important. Let, you outsourced IT department, help you analyze your IT environment and recommend a storage solution that meets your specific storage needs now and in the future.

Further reading:
Backup Recovery and Archiving: Choosing a data protection strategy that best suits your IT requirements and business needs.