The pros and cons of storing data in the cloud

Storing data in the cloud is generally smart, and many organisations are already doing so, often without realising it. Enormous amounts of information reside in cloud-powered services such as Office365, Google Workspace, Dropbox, OneDrive, Slack… if a business uses some type of Software-as-a-Service product, some of its data is already in cloud storage.

But that is typically only a small portion of business data. The majority reside on servers or central hubs such as Sharepoint. At the start of the modern cloud era, many businesses primarily used the cloud to store data for backup purposes. Many still do, and it’s a good part of a 3-2-1 backup strategy (3 copies on 2 different media with 1 copy off-site).

Organisations have since started using the cloud for other data uses, such as easy access and maintaining one authoritative version of data. Yet there are two divergent attitudes that still bug most decision-makers. Some worry if they should rely on the cloud at all for data, while others jump in with both feet without thinking of the consequences. These two choices are fortunately easy to address, says Dumisani Mtshali – General Manger Business Development

“Not using the cloud is really a step backwards, especially if you also ignore private cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure. The flexibility and scale you get from the cloud is excellent for data management and access, so I would recommend they consider the cloud for at least some of their data. But using the cloud for all of your data isn’t wise, either, because it creates a single point of failure, and not all data is suited for cloud storage.”

The choice of where to put data is specific to each business. When weighing their options, there are pros and cons to consider.

Why store data in the cloud

  • Easy access and integration: cloud data is easier to access, not just for remote workers and branches, but even inside the same building. Using APIs, companies can establish easy and relatively secure access between data and applications.
  • One version of the truth: duplicated data can create contradictions, especially when they differ in age or are edited separately by different people. The cloud offers the best opportunity to create single versions of data using a common standard.
  • Backup services: the cloud is not a backup silver bullet. But the easy access and connectivity help the cloud be an accessible and often affordable way to store data backups.
  • Lower costs: depending on the amount of data and how frequently you need to access it, the cloud can be a cheaper option for data storage than on-premises systems.

Why not store data in the cloud

  • Single point of failure: cloud hosts are not infallible, and their systems can fail. They also give cybercriminals a specific target. While cloud security and safeguards are often really good, they should not be your only data storage location.