By Rentia Booysen – Given the scale and complexity of data today, it is not about choosing between on-premises or cloud storage solutions. Instead, local businesses can unlock significant value by embracing both approaches. A hybrid storage strategy that views on-premises data centre storage as complementary to cloud-based solutions can unlock significant competitive advantage.

This can create a symbiotic relationship where data can fluidly move to and from the public cloud depending on the company’s requirements. Public cloud service providers have done an excellent job creating low-cost services that are easy to adopt and highly scalable.

However, there is a risk that this can result in the growth of Shadow IT inside the organisation. The ease of creating cloud storage processes enables individuals or even business units to bypass any level of strategic vendor management and fly under the CIO’s radar.

Unfortunately, many of these services are built on a series of one-way bridges that imports company data and keeps it there. Because cloud storage services generate tremendous revenue based on how often users need to access that data and where it needs to be distributed geographically, being stuck in a cloud lock-in situation can have significant cost repercussions.

Companies who embrace cloud storage without understanding the fine print will make it difficult for themselves to repatriate their data or even switch to a different cloud service provider should pricing change. Therefore, reading the SLAs and putting ones in place that promote multi- and hybrid cloud environments must be essential for data agility.


Public cloud advantage

There are many underlying complexities to consider when a business adopts a public cloud approach to data storage solutions. The potential benefits, such as increased agility, resilience, and competitiveness, must be weighed against the potential challenges, including security concerns, integration issues, and the need for specialised expertise.

However, if the business takes a considered approach, going the cloud route for data storage can radically transform the organisation. This equips the company with the tools and capabilities needed to succeed in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

By embracing the opportunities presented by cloud technology, businesses can position themselves for long-term growth and success while also addressing the risks and obstacles that come with this transformative decision.


Keep your data safe in the cloud

Of course, the security and integrity of data kept in the cloud must be considered non-negotiables. This is where Zero Trust becomes key. This mindset is one where everything must be verified. The cloud environment must therefore attest to the identity of the person or function looking to access the data.

This means that the actor must be able to state who they are in a namespace that the system accepts.

Simple systems may have a binary yes or no view of confidence in the verification of the actor. More advanced systems may have a numeric confidence score that can be explicitly referenced as part of a risk-reward-based policy.

Note that the system may also increase or reduce confidence through other means, such as responding to an active challenge or even passively observing the actor’s behaviour. The central theme is that companies must integrate Zero Trust in not only their business processes but also their storage strategies and systems to ensure that the data remains protected.


Network visibility

Underpinning the success of any cloud storage strategy is having a reliable infrastructure layer that provides technology leaders with complete visibility and control of their entire IT environment.

Using solutions that can, for example, take any pair of devices and connect them in a full mesh topology while easily adding more devices as needed become enablers of cloud storage. Keep in mind that connecting the compute, storage and functional elements necessary to deliver a service to an end-user successfully requires reliable, automated networking.

An integrated solution must reduce costly configuration mistakes around cloud access and storage and allow an engineer to manage all devices to improve the data access time.

Companies know that they must deploy storage into the cloud to provide employees with access regardless of their geographic location. The need to do so securely using infrastructure that is up to the challenge of migrating data to the cloud becomes a key building block. But once this is in place, data availability and storage can scale according to business requirements for more agile operations.


Rentia Booysen is a director at Westcon-Comstor, Southern Africa