The cloud is great isn’t it? Easy setup of emails, all hosted and stored by the provider, no more expensive back-end servers. Run your main applications off it. No more worries about backups, systems going down, accessibility anywhere you have an Internet connection. Life couldn’t be better. But what about file storage? With all those different companies offering cloud storage solutions which should you go for? Or should you become you own Cloud based system?
Let’s look at some of the issues with using an external Cloud storage system
Where are the files stored?
The files are stored in the cloud, but then you quite often have to download an app onto each employees computer, adjust the bandwidth that app uses, then download the files the users have been granted access to. So the files are also stored on the end users computer for every user. What if their computers don’t have or run out of storage space? You now have a constant battle of removing unneeded files, or updating / buying new computers
Imagine 20 users, all needing to access the same folder which contains some rather large GB files. They need to all download the folder for the first time onto their computer. If you have a slow internet this is going to take some time, valuable work time, and in addition may slow the Internet connection down for everyone else. If you have a slow Internet expect dropped connections, people getting frustrated as their ability to work online becomes impossible until the files are all downloaded. And don’t forget when it comes to download a 1GB file may only download at 24Mbps or dependent on your bandwidth (note the Small b) so about 5 to 6 minutes…. oh hang on, we have twenty users downloading, could take a little while longer.
Many systems work on the number of users and storage being used. It is inevitable that when it comes to file storage your costs will go up as you store more and more on it, and hopefully your business is doing well so more users are coming online. But these costs can quickly get out of control. Other systems base costs on a usage policy, so you pay a small amount every time you access the file, (this can be hard to control how much you are paying per month). At any rate, costs can be higher than you expect. We had one client whose costs were soon hitting Â£700 / mth. They had 20 users and worked on a large amount of large files. It was a situation they were not best pleased with and needed an alternative. (Luckily we had one)
We hope many hosting companies are secure, but it seems that hackers are determined to access these systems. The good providers would have a backup of their system and a backup of that system with your files stored in many different locations around the world so in general your files are not going to disappear, but one other aspect of cloud systems is what if an end users leaves your business?. You take their keys to the office, bid them farewell then forget they still have access to your cloud based files!
So what else can you do? Is there an alternative? There is always an alternative and you can become your own cloud based system, you just need the right equipment and know-how.
With the right system in place you can control internally who has access to what, files are only stored in one location, access speed goes at network speed so you are not eating up vital Internet Bandwidth, User no longer have disk space issues on their computers, monthly costs for storage are now reduced and files are now accessible to users working from home or in remote locations when you need them to be, You have more control
But there is one thing. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP
Many of these systems have good tolerance built into them with Disk Arrays, dual processors, dual power supplies, but you still need to backup your data. One of the advantages of the cloud, is should (heaven forbid) anything happen to your office, your files are stored off site and therefore recoverable. Luckily these systems allow you to backup to a cloud based solution at a reduced cost.
How come a reduced cost? Well if your current cloud storage is based on the number of users, you now only need one main account instead of one for each user. Remember you are backing up to the third party cloud so users no longer need to access it, they access your in-house system.Â If you are using a usage costs based 3rd party cloud system, you are only uploading to it, and not downloading from it, so again reducing costs.
Which would you rather have? A system where your employees may waste time waiting for files to download or a system where files are readily available and backed up to a safe location?
The choice is yours, and such decisions are based on a a variety of factors. What is right for one company may not be right for another but knowing that there are alternatives can help you make a better informed decision.