Providers of SAN storage and NAS storage system solutions to enterprise-level data backup have confidently confronted the cloud menace for years. They have consistently been able to point to customers’ negative reactions to several aspects of cloud-based storage an dispel any fear of being displaced. But it seems that enterprise IT pros, who have to integrate new technology very conservatively to minimize risks, have just been very slow to warm up to the idea. It is gaining traction as support technology improves, a number of other related factors shift, and people become more comfortably with the concept of this new offsite backup option.
The strongest force making cloud storage more likely for those who still need and rely on SAN storage is exposure to online-centric life making people more comfortable with the idea of it. This is especially the case as people realize that the cloud is not a direct substitute for physical onsite storage in most cases, but rather a perfect supplement. It still can’t match the speed of on-premises disk arrays for high usage files, but is ideal as a second tier place for regular but not constant backup location for archival needs.
At the same time, three of the primary concerns about using an online storage system have slowly become less worrisome. Security and reliability remain of chief importance, and most IT professionals are weary of introducing another variable that could threaten these two aspects of performance. However, the inexorable march of technology including improvements in internet connection speed and reliability, and investment in better security to support cloud storage for individuals and smaller businesses has produced results that are beginning to address these concerns.
Perhaps the most powerful argument is that computing and software is slowly shifting to the cloud. The Google suite of online applications gives free access to read, share, and edit over 30 file types including all of the most common. Many small businesses have found ways to harness this to save on software costs. If this trend continues, it could change the landscape of computing for larger companies as well. And the most efficient data storage keeps files more proximate to the tools that use them. There is the strong possibility that this will slowly push even larger, more conservative enterprises to shift the majority of their primary data backup to the cloud and away from onsite NAS or SAN.
As it currently stands, SAN storage still is only marginally threatened by cloud-based options. Most enterprises’ needs and beliefs remain firmly in the onsite camp, and they’re probably right to continue this way for a while. But it also seems that cloud-computing itself is becoming not only more powerful and stable, but more viable for a wider range of uses. The two types of backup may end up much more closely connected than they appear now.