Cloud storage is a technology that at the outset was typically viewed as something for the consumer market alone. However, in time more and more businesses began to realise the advantages of having centralised online storage solutions that could be accessed and shared from practically anywhere in the world.

The SMME market, however, is faced with a unique challenge. The public cloud may not provide the necessary levels of security and guaranteed privacy, while private cloud solutions might not be financially viable either.

Network attached storage (NAS) solutions that incorporate the personal cloud have emerged to cater to this need, offering affordable, secure and highly available cloud storage solutions ideal for the demands of today’s mobile, distributed workforce.

Cloud storage offers numerous benefits to businesses of all sizes, including accessibility, scalability and flexibility. It provides a centralised repository for data for multiple users on multiple devices, which in turn helps to enable mobility. Utilising cloud storage, users can access all of their data from any device at any time, and they are also empowered to back this data up from all of their devices regardless of location.

However, for the SME, the private cloud is not a cost effective solution, and the public cloud often does not provide the required levels of security for business peace of mind. In addition, public cloud offerings typically provide limited storage or charge a significant monthly fee for more capacity, making them less than ideal.

“In today’s digital and mobile world, the ability to share, access, back up and store data centrally is crucial – in essence, cloud storage has become a business imperative. In order to overcome the security concerns and inconvenience of the public cloud and the affordability challenges of the private cloud, another solution is needed for the SMME market. NAS with personal cloud capability addresses these challenges and provides the ideal solution,” says Anamika Budree, sales manager at WD South Africa.

NAS provides a centralised repository for SMMEs to store and access their data within their office environment, delivering high capacity for a cost effective, once-off investment without the need for monthly fees. With NAS storage, data can be easily backed up over a local network, making these solutions ideal for in-office data backup and storage.

Personal cloud capability adds to this, catering for the need for mobility, anytime anywhere access and content sharing across multiple devices.

Data remains stored on the physical NAS device, but with the personal cloud it can be accessed via the Internet from any connected device. Users always know exactly where their data is being stored, and it remains under their full control at all times, ensuring the highest levels of security. In addition, free apps enable seamless connecting and accessing of data anytime, anywhere, from any number of different devices regardless of the platform or operating system they use.

“NAS solutions are growing in popularity within the SMME market, for obvious reasons, and with additional personal cloud capability the advantages are numerous. However, when it comes to implementing a NAS solution, organisations need to ensure the hard drives used are right for the job. With personal cloud utilising the NAS device for storage, and the NAS device typically forming the crux of an SMME’s data storage, the effectiveness of the hard drive is imperative. Standard desktop hard drives simply are not suitable, as they cannot handle the demanding nature of a NAS environment. It is essential to utilise hard drives engineered specifically for this purpose,” says Kalvin Subbadu, sales manager at WD South Africa.

Hard drives in a NAS need to be compatible with the NAS system for optimal performance. In addition, they need to be able to handle the demanding always-on environment in a NAS system, with supreme reliability. NAS systems also often use RAID formatting, which desktop drives are not optimised to handle, and therefore need to incorporate error recovery control to help reduce failures.

Noise and vibration protection are also essential to preserve the life of the hard drives and ensure data does not become corrupted. SMMEs also need to ensure that they utilise the highest capacity drives possible to maximise storage within their NAS to ensure they do not run out of storage space in the future.

SMMEs today are faced with ever-growing data storage requirements coupled with the need to cater for mobility and backup, share and access content from multiple devices anytime, anywhere. NAS storage with personal cloud capability is the ideal solution to meet all of these requirements, offering a cost effective storage system with all of the benefits of the cloud and none of the drawbacks.