Your data is one of your business’s most valuable assets, whether it’s intellectual property or sensitive customer information. Not only do many industries require strict compliance with data privacy laws, but properly using data storage methods will protect your business from hackers while reassuring your clients that you prioritize their privacy.
However, with so many data storage options available today, choosing the best data storage solution for your business can be challenging. In our guide to business data storage methods, we’ll explain the differences between data storage systems and their pros and cons so you can feel confident in how you store and protect your data.
Private data storage, often referred to as on-premises storage, is the practice of storing all of your business’s data in-house. This includes overseeing all the other necessary aspects of data storage to protect your hardware, such as server maintenance, physical security and temperature control. On-premises storage falls into three main categories: direct-attached storage, network-attached storage and storage area networks.
Most people use direct-attached storage, or DAS, even if they don’t know it. For example, nearly every laptop has a DAS hard drive. Directed-attached storage is exactly what it sounds like: storage hardware like an external hard drive or USB drive connected directly to a device.
Direct-attached storage is one of the most affordable data storage options available. For example, you can purchase a 5TB external hard drive for less than $200, making it an ideal solution for small businesses that don’t manage a lot of data.
However, unlike other business data storage methods, direct-attached storage is not very shareable. If you wanted to share your data with someone or access it from another location, you would have to either bring the DAS device with you or upload your files to share them online.
Network-attached storage, or NAS, is when a storage device is connected to a network to allow authorized users to store and retrieve data from a centralized location. Essentially, NAS is like having an onsite private cloud over which your business has complete control. Because network-attached storage is like a private cloud, your team can access data remotely with only a network connection so that they can work anywhere, anytime.
Network-attached storage is a great fit for small- to medium-sized businesses with a highly collaborative workflow. Unlike direct-attached storage, network-attached storage allows multiple users to access and edit files on the same hard drive, so they don’t have to make copies and reconcile numerous versions of the same file.
However, performance can be a challenge for network-attached storage. If your network has a lot of activity, the performance could slow down to a crawl, leading to low productivity if you rely on high-performance applications. And while NAS is scalable in theory, you can only expand your storage capacity by adding another NAS device, which can unnecessarily complicate your storage setup.
A storage area network, or SAN, is a network of storage devices that can be accessed by multiple servers or devices, creating a shared pool of storage space. By connecting to the network, users can access storage on the SAN as if it were a storage drive directly attached to their computer.
Because a storage area network connects multiple drives, they are much more resilient to the issues that plague single-device storage options, like device failures. It can also improve the efficiency of your data storage by consolidating your storage resources into a single network. However, SANs are much more expensive and complex than other private data storage methods, particularly if you don’t plan to use your SAN for cloud computing.
While storing your corporate data onsite seems like the most secure practice, on-premises storage can get pretty expensive. For small- to medium-sized businesses, the costs of private data storage often outweigh the benefits, leading many organizations to pursue more efficient, scalable data storage methods like cloud-based storage.
If you’ve ever accessed data “in the cloud,” then you’ve used public data storage. More commonly known as cloud storage, public data storage moves all of your data to a remote data center. It makes your data available wherever you can connect to the internet.
Public cloud storage refers to the practice of purchasing storage space from a third-party provider to store your data. Popular public cloud storage platforms include Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, Apple iCloud and Dropbox. These service providers offer a user-friendly platform that makes it easy for businesses to share files and collaborate in the cloud from anywhere in the world.
Using cloud storage can be as simple as visiting your storage provider’s website or installing an app on your computer or mobile device to access and edit files. This eliminates the need for a complex storage setup and regular maintenance. Public cloud storage is also one of the most scalable data storage options available today, making it simple for you to add storage as your business grows.
However, easy scalability can be expensive, particularly for long-term storage usage. If you have many users who need access to your cloud storage, costs could add up over time.
Data colocation, or “colo,” is the practice of keeping your own data storage hardware in a shared, secure space known as a colocation data center or third-party data center. Like a regular storage facility, a business rents space in the colocation facility to store their equipment. In contrast, the colocation company oversees necessary maintenance like temperature control, physical security and bandwidth needs.
One of the main benefits of colocation data storage is higher, more reliable uptime, usually based on service tiers. This makes it easy for businesses to scale their data storage needs as their company grows without dedicating additional staff and resources to manage their data storage. Colocation also offers greater security than standard on-premises data storage methods, often using cameras and biometric readers to monitor the colocation facility 24/7.
However, if your colocation facility is not carrier-neutral, then your connectivity options may be severely limited. Therefore, when considering colocation services, make sure the provider has all the services you’ll need if your business expands in the future.
As the name implies, hybrid data storage combines private and public data storage methods to highlight the benefits of both data storage options. Often managed by your IT department or a managed IT services provider, hybrid storage enables you to protect your data from unauthorized access while minimizing the maintenance required.
Hybrid cloud storage refers to a mix of on-premises private data storage, private cloud services and a public cloud platform to create a unique cloud infrastructure for your business. For example, you could use your private data storage to store more sensitive information, like customer data or intellectual property, while relying on cloud storage for your everyday data access needs.
Because a hybrid cloud storage solution is so customizable, it’s easy to adapt your hybrid infrastructure to the changing needs of your business as you grow or change directions. As industries continue to digitize, flexibility has become a high priority for many organizations, leading them to invest in hybrid cloud storage solutions.
However, a hybrid storage option tends to be more costly than using a single data storage method, so it’s crucial for you to assess your organization’s data storage needs. In addition, hybrid cloud storage requires having some onsite data storage hardware. Therefore, you may want to consider the additional costs of capital investment and added maintenance in your needs assessment.
Nimble Storage is a newer data storage method that uses flash storage and predictive analytics to future-proof your business in the changing digital landscape. Compared to the flash storage common in smartphones, laptops and services, Nimble Storage is designed to provide flexible and reliable enterprise storage, perfect for SMBs with changing IT needs.
Nimble Storage’s predictive analytics compares your IT issues with previous cases to resolve your problems with proven solutions, streamlining your overall IT infrastructure and reducing downtime. Nimble Storage also provides six nines (99.9999%) availability so that your team can access data whenever they need it.
Are you struggling to scale storage and not sure which data storage option is right for your business? Partner with Helixstorm and discover the best data storage method for your unique business needs.
At Helixstorm, we specialize in cloud computing and Nimble Storage to help businesses safeguard their data while maximizing accessibility and speed for authorized users. In addition, our team of technical experts will help you identify your business’s specific capacity and performance requirements to address your current needs while preparing for future scaling.
Contact us today to find out how Helixstorm can reduce your storage costs.