When you sign up for cloud storage services and backup services, you can save a lot of money in the process. While the small and medium sized businesses may enjoy cost advantages with storage solutions in the cloud, they also have to deal with certain disadvantages. In case of the SMBs, storage is as necessary as any large organization. But this obviously demands a lot of money and staff recruitment. This is why cloud storage services are most beneficial for these SMBs.

When you own a small or medium sized business you can get a number of choices for cloud backups and storage which are as follows:

Data backups where the providers will back up the primary data in the cloud.

Data archiving features where the data is archived in the cloud and this is mainly for the permanent storage of data which is hardly ever accessed.

Primary storage refers to storage space which is offered by the cloud storage services for keeping primary copy of the data.

Secondary storage refers to storage space which houses the replica of the data.

1. When you choose cloud storage services you benefit most from the backup space which is perhaps the most utilized storage for any SMB. So, the client will keep the primary data on-site and it will back up the data in the cloud through many methods like web-based protocols and file protocols. The charge will depend on volume of backups stored these backups may also expire on a frequency basis.

2. In cloud archiving, the services are similar to data backups but here the data gets housed indefinitely or according to customer-set policies. Here, the client is not going to have a copy of data and the provider must offer additional backup or data recovery services for protecting this archive. Data archiving depends on content and it may deal with specific files or application based data.

3. Primary storage offers users direct access to documents which usually reside on file servers or inside local storage systems. This service may be deployed in various ways such as through web protocols which are meant to work with primary data inside cloud. Many companies offer storage gateway devices which look like local servers but actually store reading and writing of the files that are stored inside the cloud. These gateway products are used in the hope that only a few files will be accessed regularly by users. When files get created, they are usually written and read only a handful of times. So, the gateway will archive such files inside cloud storage and keep the frequently-accessed files inside a local cache.

4. Secondary storage refers to keeping replica of main data instead of maintaining a backup. For instance, the Dropbox will replicate client data into a cloud and you can access this through the Internet or another computer or server. All copies are kept in sync and the cloud copy is not held as a primary copy. The client can access it without an Internet connection. So, secondary storage is perfect for businesses keen to share data but not keen to purchase dedicated file servers.

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What benefits and limitations are found in cloud storage services?

The main idea behind signing up for cloud storage services for SMBs is cost savings. You can get cloud computing solutions without having to bear capital costs for buying hardware. The charges are usually as monthly fees, based on how many resources you have used. While an open model is very beneficial it still has shortcomings. While services come with a monthly charge, this charge is variable and it becomes very difficult to predict costs. Unless the services are properly monitored, clients can also receive a huge bill after a month.

Cloud storage may give you a lot of scalability and you should be able to scale up or scale down your storage without having to pay any extra charges. But to deploy storage in this manner you will to plan ahead; it is hard to reduce the costs when demands are low. Cloud storage suits short-term demands; it is best for rapid deployment in order to cater to demands.

As of now there is no globally-accepted norm when it comes to interfacing cloud storage. While there are bodies like the SNIA which have attempted to standardize rules, providers have usually set up their own standards and customers are therefore faced with many issues.

Moving between providers cannot be easy as the cloud has a proprietary nature and this limits data mobility. When you move large data volumes there will be downtimes and service interruptions. Latency is one of the biggest problems of storage. Time to recover data is very important when you are considering cloud storage. Backups can be streamed out across a longer time and when you have to recover data; it must e on a short scale. So, storage is best for small scale data restorations and not likely to satisfy demands of service level agreements for the big recoveries.

Most businesses strongly stress on the need for security of cloud storage services. But breaches happen regularly and customers must know how the provider plans to keep data secure within the facility. It must deploy HTTPS or SSL protocols; the better providers will also offer data encryption.

There are frequent incidents of data loss and outages; for instance, Flickr recently experienced such an incident and it lead to a client losing an account which had thousands of images, none of which were recovered. There are many providers that offer no agreements for covering such untoward damages. So, as clients, you need to understand all the SLA terms and find out how you will be compensated for data loss.