Top 3 Challenges of Cloud-Based Storage Management

Cloud Storage

In 2019, most of us know the many benefits of cloud computing. But what about the potential drawbacks of the cloud? One area where some organizations struggle is cloud-based storage management. There are several factors any company migrating to the cloud should consider regarding storage of their data.

Three Cloud-Based Storage Challenges

 

Challenge #1: Cost

Organizations want cloud-based storage services that fit within their budget, and one of the promises of the cloud has always been lowered costs. However, some companies migrating from on-premise infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure have seen the opposite, with their storage costs increasing. In the recent State of Software-Defined Storage, Hyperconverged and Cloud Storage survey, 31% of IT professionals stated that instead of cutting costs, moving to the cloud increased their storage costs. Stanford researcher Dr. Jonathan Koomey may have an answer as to why this is; he asserts that companies are wasting $62 billion per year paying for capacity they don’t need.

One way to avoid this is by partnering with a provider that offers level billing. With level billing, organizations pay the same amount each month based on their contract, so there is no more guessing what the bill will be when capacity changes. This is especially useful for government organizations that need their bill to look the same month-to-month.

 

Challenge #2: Not Negotiating or Monitoring SLAs

The International Data Corporation estimates that approximately 80% of organizations moving to the cloud accept the boilerplate service level agreement (SLA) a provider offers them; and that’s a mistake. “A key benefit of any cloud service—storage or otherwise—is that economies of scale enable the cloud service provider to offer a commoditized service at a lower price than you could provide it yourself,” says Paul Rubens of Enterprise Storage Forum. “That means that the SLA that a service provider will offer you is likely to be the same as the one offered to all of its other customers buying the same service. But that's not to say that you can't negotiate.”

A few factors to look for in your SLA regarding storage:

  • Liability limits. Providers that store massive amounts of data could face very high losses if something went wrong; so, most put a limit on liability in the SLA. Of course, the provider wants the limit as low as possible, and the client wants it as high as possible. This is a good time to put your negotiation skills to work to ensure you are comfortable with the agreed upon amount.

  • Data location. Data centers like to be flexible with where they store data, but your organization may not have that luxury. Typically this is a concern for those that need to maintain compliance in their industry; HIPAA, CJIS, and PCI regulations all require organizations to have knowledge of where their data is stored. Location also plays a factor in the security measures required by compliance regulations, such as being outside flood zones, having redundant N+1 generator’s, an uninterruptible power supply, computer room A/C (CRAC), dual authentication security, and hurricane-rated structuring. For many organizations, it may be necessary to look for a provider that offers geo-diverse locations, or geo-redundancy, in their SLA. That means that if a disaster strikes one location, your data can be moved to another location, keeping it safe and accessible.

  • Scalability. Many SLAs are designed to meet the needs of the customer at the time of signing, but organizations grow (or downsize) over time. Make sure your SLA details intervals for a contract review; if your organization grows larger, your cloud storage capacity can grow with it (and if your organization happens to become smaller, you’ll want the option to reduce capacity). With the aforementioned level billing solution, contracts are often reviewed and reconciled every 12 months; this is a good time to make any necessary storage and capacity changes based on consumption.

Challenge #3: Not Understanding How to Retrieve Your Data

We like to think our business relationships will last, but disputes happen, better deals come along, and changes in management can take companies in a new direction. So, knowing that you may not stay with your cloud provider forever, it’s important to understand how to retrieve your data (known as cloud repatriation). Unfortunately, when you leave a cloud provider, some don’t make it very easy—they’re storing your most sensitive data, and know they’ve got you between a rock and a hard place. So, they may agree only to release it after securing payment of potentially tens of thousands of dollars (often charged per gigabyte, which adds up quickly).

Even worse, some public clouds never return the data—at least, not in a usable format. Instead, you may get an excel export of data that’s impossible to work with, requiring it to be completely rebuilt. Always get a repatriation policy in writing to ensure you can get your data back safely, securely, and without hassle.

 

 The DSM Difference

If you’re considering migrating some, or all, of your workloads to the cloud, DSM can help. We offer each of the following:

  • Level Billing. Turn capital expenses into operating expenses and know what to expect each billing cycle; reconcile and review to increase or decrease storage every 12 months. (We also offer consumption-based billing if preferred).

  • Transparent SLAs. Get an easy-to-read contract without the fine print.

  • Geo-diverse Offerings. Headquartered in Florida, with expanded VMware vCloud options in Phoenix and Atlanta, we keep your data protected even if a disaster strikes the Sunshine State.

  • Easy Data Repatriation. Want to switch providers or go another direction? No hard feelings. We’ll return your data safely and securely, at no cost.

Contact the experts at DSM to learn more.

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