Enterprise Cloud Storage - Overview and Solution Comparison

Both the volume and velocity of data growth in recent years are unprecedented. An IDC report found that digital data more than doubles every two years and will reach 44 zettabytes by 2020, 37 percent of which will be useful when analyzed.

To get data-driven insights which drive smarter business decisions, enterprises that collect data from many sources must have somewhere to store it for analysis. Businesses also need to store data for other uses, such as:

  • Serving web content,
  • Backing up and archiving data
  • Developing or running applications.

On-premise storage solutions are costly and require frequent upgrades to meet growing storage needs. The cloud is a cost-efficient, effortlessly scalable, and convenient place to store large volumes of data for companies of all sizes.

Enterprise cloud storage is storage purchased from a cloud service provider to house some or all of an organization's data within secure cloud-based infrastructures.

Although similar to cloud-based storage services, file sharing services differ from cloud storage services as follows:

  • File sharing services are best for project collaboration and sharing multimedia files. File sharing services can be cloud-based, P2P, or machine-to-machine. You can index files in a file sharing service on search engines.
  • Enterprise cloud storage services are best for storing mission-critical company data for high-level analysis, running applications, backups, or serving content. Typically, these solutions typically pack more sophisticated security solutions.

Businesses of all sizes face a challenge in choosing an appropriate cloud storage service for their needs.

In this post, you'll find out about the best enterprise cloud storage services and how they compare on price, performance, and security. When you finish reading, you'll be better placed to choose a suitable cloud storage solution for your company.


5 Top Enterprise Cloud Storage Solutions

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 provides secure and scalable object storage in the cloud. With object storage, the storage structure is flat, meaning each file you store has an associated unique identifier and no hierarchy. All units of data are stored at the same level and you can access data with an API using each data unit's unique identifier (more details).

With S3, you can access data at any time from anywhere through a simple web interface.

Use Cases: Serving static web content and media, storing data for analytics, backing up and archiving important data.

Cost: Cost is per usage and prices vary by region. A free tier grants users 5GB of storage. The paid tier for standard storage in the U.S. East region starts at $0.023/GB-month for the first 50 TB of storage.

Performance: Amazon S3 supports multiple concurrent clients and applications. The service provides 99.99 percent availability per year. 

Security: Amazon S3 uses the AWS access policy to manage access to stored data. The service can also use server-side encryption to project data objects when you don't use them.

Microsoft Azure Storage Blobs

Microsoft provides object storage for unstructured with its cloud-based Azure Storage Blobs service. You access data in Azure Blobs using REST APIs, and you can choose custom replication options that specify whether you want your data replicated across multiple datacenters.

Use Cases:  Application development and testing, serving web content, archiving unstructured data, and storing data for later analysis.

Cost: Cost depends on data volume, frequency of access, chosen replication option, and region. For the Central U.S. region with geo-redundant storage (data replicated across 6 separate centers) and frequent (Hot) access tier the cost is $0.0368/GB-month for the first 50 TB of data stored.

Performance: Azure Blobs has a capacity of up to 500 TiB per account and 20,000 requests per second.

Security: Notable security features include role-based access control, client-side encryption for securing data in transit, and server-side encryption to secure data when it's written to storage.

Google Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Storage is an object storage service that allows world-wide storage and retrieval of any amount of data at any time. You can access projects programatically using Google Cloud Storage JSON API. There is also a console and a command line tool.

Use Cases: Serving website content, archiving and backing up data, build data analytics pipelines.

Cost: The price you pay depends on frequency of access and geographical distribution of data. Multi-regional data costs $0.026 per GB/month to store, and retrieval is free. Nearline data, which you access less than once per month costs, $0.01 per GB/month to store and $0.01 per GB to retrieve.

Performance: Google Cloud Storage provides 99.999999999% durability and 99.95% monthly availability for multi-regional storage. Single region storage has 99.9% monthly availability.

Security: You can protect data with data access controls, you can only access the API over encrypted SSL/TLS channels, and Google automatically encrypts stored data. There is also automatic intrusion detection in Google's cloud infrastructure.

Amazon Glacier

Amazon Glacier provides secure file storage, in which data is archived inside containers named vaults.

Use Cases: Archiving data with infrequent read access, backing up data, securing data for compliance.

Cost: Storage costs $0.004/GB-month in the U.S. East region. The price to retrieve archived data depends on how quick you need it, with the fastest retrieval time costing $0.03 per GB.

Performance: Glacier is optimized for storage instead of performance—annual durability is 99.999999999% for an archive. You interact with the service using SDKs, Amazon's command line, or the Amazon Glacier REST API. The fastest Expedited retrieval method makes archives available within 5 minutes.

Security: Security features for protecting data include AWS control (access keys, multi-factor authentication), and a Vault Lock feature that enables you to deploy and enforce compliance controls on individual Glacier vaults. 

Closing Thoughts

Each enterprise cloud storage solution has its own perks and use cases, from which you'll have to decide on the service that offers the best value.

  • If you only need to archive or backup data, Amazon Glacier is a good option.
  • If you want to store data for analytics or serve static web content, choose between Google Cloud Storage, Azure Blobs, and Amazon S3.
  • For a high-performance enterprise-class data management solution that gives control over cloud and on-premises resources from a single console and offers tiered cloud storage, consider solutions such as NetApp's ONTAP Cloud.