Cloud technologies offer solutions for all manner of business and personal applications. But perhaps the most useful for everyone comes in the form of hosted file storage.
Hosted file storage generally sees files being replicated from a local system to a Cloud service over the Internet. Files are replicated and synchronised automatically, providing a set-and-forget method of file backup and an easy way to access your data any place, any time using any device.
However there are several different services available built around three core concepts – the Public Cloud, the Private Cloud and the Hybrid Cloud. There are strengths and weaknesses to each of these solutions – so it pays to understand them a little better in order to make an informed decision before buying into a service.
Public Cloud file storage
Public Cloud file storage systems are so called because they are built on “shared infrastructure”. This means that file storage space is allocated on a server (or more likely a data center cluster) that is shared between all users of that service. The accounts themselves are not publicly accessible, although they could be if users share access to their files with other people.
Some of the best known examples of Public Cloud file storage services include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Apple iCloud. Each of these offerings provides users with an allocation from a shared pool of storage. By default, access to that allocation is restricted to a single, signed-on user.
Benefits of Public Cloud storage
Public Cloud storage tends to be significantly cheaper than other options, mainly because the cost of the supporting infrastructure can be shared between all the service users. This is why many basic level accounts are completely free.
Public Cloud storage services are quick, simple and cheap to set up.
Drawbacks of Public Cloud storage
Public Cloud storage solutions tend to come with little or no support, so in the event you have a problem, you will probably have to resolve it yourself. And any system outages will affect all users – there are unlikely to be any kind of service level agreements of the sort demanded by business to ensure access to data is unaffected.
Public Cloud storage is also frequently limited in capacity. Most offer a small amount of space free with which to get started, but anything beyond that is chargeable.
Who is Public Cloud storage best for?
Public Cloud storage is best suited to non-mission critical applications, such as secondary data backups in the event that your computer and local backup solutions both fail. Public Cloud also lends itself to remote data access for non-sensitive information. As such, Public Cloud is best for home users and personal data.
Private Cloud file storage
Using similar principles to Public Cloud storage, Private Cloud is slightly different in the way that it is implemented. Private Cloud solutions use dedicated system resources to create pooled storage that is only available to the individual or business using the system.
Somewhat confusingly, Private Cloud solutions can be built using other Cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. These systems rely on a shared pool of computing resources, but which are then “virtualised” to prevent unauthorised access by other account holders. So although the underlying infrastructure is shared, they are then split into dedicated segments for each subscriber.
Benefits of Private Cloud storage
The obvious benefit of Private Cloud storage is that dedicated resources are not subject to slowdowns or outages caused by other service users. By building a Private Cloud infrastructure, every aspect of the service is under your control, allowing you to get maximum value and performance from your investment.
Drawbacks of Private Cloud storage
Private Cloud storage is expensive to implement and maintain because you are responsible for purchasing or hiring everything to make the service work. Software, hardware, connectivity and maintenance and support costs all contribute to make Private Cloud extremely expensive.
When maximum capacity is reached, you may also need to purchase additional resources to expand your Private Cloud.
Who is Private Cloud storage best for?
Because of the costs involved, Private Cloud is best suited to large organisations who have the finances and technology experience to build and manage a complicated IT solution. Private Cloud is also best suited to applications that deal with particularly sensitive, confidential data. As such, Private Cloud is really only viable for very large businesses.
Hybrid Cloud file storage
Hybrid Cloud solutions take many forms, but in general they combine the cost-effective nature of Public Cloud and the greater control afforded by Private Cloud. Hybrid Cloud allows you to build a dedicated file storage system using shared datacentre infrastructure for instance.
Software like ownCloud can be used to create a Private Cloud using a standard webhosting package built on shared infrastructure for instance. In this way files can be synced to the Cloud and accessed from anywhere, but only by the “owner” of the system.
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud storage
Solutions like ownCloud are particularly useful because they give you a much greater degree of control over how the system works. And because everything is built on inexpensive webspace, running costs are much lower than when using true Private Cloud solutions.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Cloud storage
The biggest drawback of Hybrid Cloud solutions, particularly those installed and managed by yourself, is that they require a more in-depth understanding of technology to begin with. There may be Hybrid Cloud services available to purchase, but these will obviously be more expensive than a Public Cloud alternative.
Who is Hybrid Cloud storage best for?
Hybrid Cloud is ideal for individuals or SMEs who need a very secure online file storage solution but who cannot afford the outlay for a dedicated Private Cloud solution.
Cloud flexibility is its greatest strength
A choice of three different implementations of the same technology may seem excessive and confusing, but it also serves to demonstrate just how flexible Cloud file storage can be. The fact is that there is a file storage solution for any individual or business, which will meet their specific needs.
Using the basic descriptions above, you should now at least be able to decide which is not the right solution for your needs. This should in turn help you better narrow down your options before you commit. Good luck!