Blog | September 7, 2010

The True Cost of (Reliable) Storage

by Jody Vandergriff in Marketing Operations

Without data, business comes to a standstill. No reports, no communication, no records – and thus, no revenue. That places a big spotlight on the importance of data storage, and today’s organizations have options for data storage, ranging from in-house hard drives and servers to a cloud solution. But can the cloud offer more value as a data-storage solution when compared to on-site hardware?

Cloud solution providers build their business around accessibility and reliability. Not only are you eliminating hardware expenses and logistical costs from your budget, you’re also getting a commitment from a business designed to maximize availability and redundancy to keep data safe. The trade-off is a subscription fee – but what are you really getting for that subscription price? More importantly, how much does that benefit you compared to buying your own hardware? The results may surprise you; let’s take a look.

Environment: A server room’s environment is critical to keeping data safe. By environment, we’re not just looking at the ambient temperature, but a whole range of issues affecting the server room. Temperature is important, though, and cooling units are necessary to maintain optimal server room temperatures. In addition, the room requires plenty of power sources for server hardware and cooling units. In order to keep those units running 24/7, redundant power sources are necessary. You’ll also need to keep the hardware safe with 24/7 monitored server rooms, not just for the potential of break-ins, but from fires, earthquakes, or other disaster situations. The difference, of course, is that you don’t have to pay for any of that. The cloud provider deals with that – not you.

Data reliability: Things go wrong. And when your data matters, you need to plan for it. That means installing a redundancy plan with RAID servers (redundant storage) dispersed across geographically diverse locations in case of natural disaster. There’s also the IT architecture necessary to create redundancy during a fail-over situation, such as backup firewalls and load balancers. And last, you have to manage an appropriate level of data backups as a safety net should roll back be necessary. Combine all of that together and hardware costs pile up quickly.

Administration: All of this doesn’t come together on its own. You’ll need IT people to set it up, security people to monitor the server room, and facilities management to make sure power and environmental needs are met. In short, overhead costs accumulate quickly. Here’s one way to think about it: consider the cost of a single IT person needed to monitor your server solution. Now compare that to a cloud storage subscription rate; that alone should put things into perspective.

When you look at these factors, it becomes clear that the cost of hosting your own storage is a multi-tiered investment from both a financial and resource perspective. Does it make sense for organizations to host their own data storage? In these difficult economic times, more and more companies are realizing the technological and financial advantages of going with a cloud solution.