Top 10 Signs Your Business Might Need Cloud Storage

David Boland
David Boland
Senior Director, Product Marketing
09/06/2022

Many factors are driving the nearly five-fold growth expected by 2027 in the cloud storage market. One is that it’s becoming second nature to tap the cloud as a quick and affordable way to supplement IT infrastructure and tech expertise. In addition, businesses are hanging onto more of their data so they can run comprehensive analytics, monitor customer and public sentiment, and back up their digital assets to boost resilience to outages and other disruptions.

Combine these trends with the expected near-tripling of the world’s data between 2020 and 2025, and you get a flood of enterprise data threatening to thwart the best laid storage-capacity plans. Managing skyrocketing data requires a well-thought-out strategy for how you’ll scale storage infrastructure to ensure ongoing data availability and compliance. Below are 10 telltale signs that you might benefit from making cloud storage part of that strategy.

 

1. You’re finding it more difficult to manage corporate data.

If this is the case, it probably means your data is growing faster than your storage infrastructure and support staff. You may be having trouble keeping shared data organized—particularly unstructured data, such as documents, images, emails, audio and video files, and social media data. Unstructured data represents 80% to 90% of all new business data, Gartner estimates, and much of it constitutes large files that quickly consume your available storage capacity.

Cloud services based on object storage use metadata to describe your unstructured data and sort it by attributes, such as name, creation date, and location. These services are highly scalable, easing data management and making it simple and quick to increase capacity.

 

2. Predicting capacity requirements is starting to seem like a best-guess effort.

If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to judge whether you have the capacity, software tools, and staff power to scale onsite storage to meet demand, you should investigate cloud storage. With 2022 IT budgets fairly flat, spilling over into the cloud for immediately available capacity that you can turn on, off, up, or down as needed, while paying only for what you use, helps you dynamically expand while toeing the line on cost.

 

3. Overprovisioning is no longer economical.

Supplementing onsite storage with cloud storage helps you avoid the expensive practice of overprovisioning capacity to have on hand “just in case.” Overprovisioning is particularly inefficient when using traditional premises-based storage platforms because they tightly couple compute and storage resources, which can’t be scaled independently. So you end up over-investing in one resource to achieve the capacity you need in the other. On a small scale, that’s no big deal. But in the era of big data, overprovisioning is quickly growing cost-prohibitive.

 

4. It’s challenging and costly to find the tech talent you need to manage data on-site.

Your company might be feeling the effects of the well-publicized IT skills shortage. A recent Gartner survey revealed that 64% of executives considered IT talent shortages the biggest barrier to adopting new technologies—a huge jump from just 4% in 2020—while Computerworld reported in July that competition for tech talent was reaching near-record levels. If your storage personnel are fully consumed managing on-site solutions, your business may have a technical debt that leaves little or no time for innovation. But in today’s tight market, you may have few options for adding headcount to help free up staff for more strategic work.

You may also run multiple dissimilar storage systems, each requiring specialized skills to manage them. It may not pay to continue investing in tech expertise for each one—provided you can even find it. When you store data in the cloud, you outsource the expertise needed to maintain the required hardware, software, and networking, which is bundled into your flat usage fee for predictability and simplicity.

 

5. You’d like to increase resiliency to disasters, outages, and cyber attacks.

Cyber threats continue to rise, and they don’t discriminate on company size or industry. A 2022 state of security report by Splunk and the Enterprise Strategy Group found that compromises were up this year across the board, from email to insider attacks to ransomware. More than three-fourths (79%) of 1,200 security leaders said they’d encountered a ransomware attack in the past two years, and more than a third (35%) reported data or system availability losses as a result.

Storing your data in a single location without a remote backup increases your risk of data loss and business downtime due to a cyber event such as ransomware. Hardware and software failures, data corruption, power outages, and local disaster situations can also cause downtime. Any of these events can result in lost revenue, productivity, and brand loyalty.

The cloud provides a quick and affordable way to institute the “3-2-1” best-practice rule for backing up data to protect against these situations. The practice is to retain at least three copies of data (one production and two backup copies) stored on at least two different media types with at least one copy stored in an off-site location, such as a cloud storage service. The cloud can scale to mount multiple copies of data in different regions across geographically dispersed data centers, offering many levels of built-in redundancy protection.

 

6. Since the pandemic, the number of your employees requiring remote data access has multiplied.

Cloud-stored data can be distributed so it’s in close geographic proximity to your employees working from home or other remote sites. This distribution delivers high-performance experiences that mirror accessing data over a local network at the office.

 

7. Compliance regulation or internal policy requires you to archive certain business or customer records for several years.

If you have archiving requirements, offloading seldom-accessed files can be the simplest, least risky way to gain experience with cloud services. Just as you might want to move unused furniture and knick-knacks from your basement to a secured and climate-controlled physical storage facility, you can move rarely used data into cloud storage. This option lets you comply with your requirements without having to buy incremental, expensive infrastructure and pay for the associated real estate space, power, cooling, and expertise needed to run and maintain it.

 

8. You want to become data-driven for better and faster decisions.

To compete in the digital economy, most businesses must leverage the power of data for valuable insights that help them do everything from understanding customers to avoiding supply chain snafus. The “siloed” nature of traditional, proprietary data storage systems hinders your ability to correlate and aggregate growing data for analysis, which impacts analytics results and, accordingly, your business outcomes.

For comprehensive data analytics, it’s typical to move data into a so-called data lake, a cohesive repository for storing different kinds of data in their native structured, unstructured, and semi-structured formats. Using a cloud-based data lake service avoids having to design, buy, build, test, and maintain the infrastructure yourself. Using the cloud can decrease deployment times from months to weeks while enabling instant and near-infinite scalability as data volumes grow.

 

9. Maintaining duplicate infrastructure for DR is expensive and time-consuming.

You may be finding that the data backup and replication part of your business continuity or disaster recovery (DR) plan can no longer scale as fast as your business data growth. (If you don’t have such a recovery system in place, you need to get one, stat.) Backing up and continually syncing data to a duplicate infrastructure protects your business operations if a catastrophic event renders your primary data inaccessible.

But there are significant outlays of time, effort, and cost associated with designing, building, and operating your own secondary “hot site” that requires lifecycle maintenance just as the primary site does—even though it may never be used (hopefully!). Using cloud storage for DR relieves you from having to own and maintain that seldom-used duplicate infrastructure.

 

10. Capital budget isn’t as abundant as it was pre-COVID.

You may have redistributed how you spend your IT dollars in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent economic and supply-chain conditions. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents to a TechRepublic IT budget survey (62%) said they were tightening their belts as a consequence of COVID. Like them, you may have reallocated IT dollars to reengineer business processes, support remote workforces, and beef up cybersecurity, shifting capital dollars away from infrastructure projects.

Cloud services, including cloud storage, continue to be a top budget priority for the agility they deliver and because they require no large capital expenditures (CapEx). Instead, they move infrastructure budget into pay-as-you-go operating expenditure (OpEx) budget. Technology as an operating expense eases and accelerates budgeting because short-term spending requirements are lower and enables capital dollars to move to other areas of the business where needed.

 

Final Thoughts

A confluence of trends, both technological and economic, are driving increased business interest in cloud storage, projected to grow at a 22% CAGR through 2027. As the world’s data volumes ramp up and businesses compete increasingly on data-driven decisions and automation, it pays to create a data storage strategy that positions your company for success in what can be a volatile future.

Low-cost cloud storage that’s immediately accessible and scalable has a part to play in companies looking to scale their capacity quickly and affordably; reinforce their data backup, recovery, and archiving setups; and pursue data analytics for future business empowerment and competitive advantage.

 

David Boland
Written By

David Boland

Senior Director, Product Marketing