Punch clocks, handwritten journals, and office storage cabinets are a thing of the past. Today, there are more efficient ways to track and store employee, client, financial, and other vital business records. We’re not talking about computers and flash drives — there’s even a better solution: cloud backup and storage.
Storing every file, including its backup file, in a cloud server is a cost-effective solution. You don’t need to allocate a big budget for an in-house IT department to handle data backup and storage regularly. You can outsource the job to vendors like us who offer remote services complete with flexible pricing and SLAs.
Here’s another good news: you can lower the cost of cloud backup and storage by merely knowing the difference between hot and cold data storage. These temperature-derived terminologies describe the levels of tiered cloud storage services, helping you compare pricing options and vendors.
What is Hot Data?
Hot data is like Amtrak trains — they are always in demand and in transit. If your organization needs to access business data frequently to sustain day-to-day operations, your company is working with hot data. Say, you own an insurance company. Your employees need to have quick, easy access to various policy information and other product data to come up with client proposals or insurance quotes every single day.
To achieve fast access, you need to keep hot data in a storage environment that can provide fast, consistent response times 24/7. Typically, organizations do it locally, but there’s a danger to this.
With Local Storage, Data Can Go Dark
Local storage of hot data means you store, access, and edit files on desktop computers, laptops, or mobile devices. Data is readily available on a particular device even without an internet connection. But when files are siloed locally with no central visibility, data can go dark once the primary user loses access.
For example, one of your employees resigned. All the client spreadsheets, email lists, and other vital business data stored in his or her computer but were shared nowhere else go dark. You or other employees can’t utilize those data for other business objectives unless you gain access and migrate every file to a storage media or centralized server. This defeats the purpose of having readily accessible hot data storage.
So, Should You Migrate Hot Data to Cloud?
One great solution to this is storing vital data in a cloud environment in a private network. With this setup, anyone in your team who works in the same network or intranet can access the data even offline.
But now that almost every organization works online, having third-party hot cloud storage is also feasible. Employees can download data from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. The only drawback is that with its resource-intensiveness and fast data accessibility, hot cloud storage often comes with a steep price.
What is Cold Data?
On the other spectrum of the temperature-derived storage levels is the cold data. Compared to hot data, cold files are accessed less frequently. Examples of these resources include old project files, ex-employee records, and other business information that should be kept securely but isn’t needed anytime soon. With the speed of access taking a back seat, cold data can be stored on less expensive storage environments.
What’s the Catch?
Sometimes, there’s a trade-off between low cloud storage prices and accessibility. Sure, vendors don’t charge a premium for cold data storage. But some companies charge extra fees if you access data in the cold storage more than a certain number of times or download files above a certain amount of data. These fees can quickly eat up cost savings you’ve made with cold cloud storage if you aren’t careful.
Access to data in cold storage requires patience and planning. So make sure you’re only storing files that are no longer relevant to your day-to-day business decision-making or any current operational activities.
Why Bother Store Cold Data?
When you no longer need your old business files, why bother storing them? Why can’t you just delete them? You can, but there are circumstances when deleting cold data isn’t lawful. Some governance policies require that your business retain particular types of data for certain lengths of time before you can defensibly delete them. With this uncertainty on which data to keep and which data to delete has forced organizations to adopt a “save everything” policy, which isn’t cost-efficient at all in terms of storage.
The challenge is here to pin down which data is hot or cold. The decision, however, varies from business to business. In one organization, data that goes 30 days without getting utilized might be cold. In another, files have to sit around for 90 or 180 days before it’s considered cold based on the business cycle.
Is Your Data Hot or Cold?
Since hot data storage is often expensive, you need to move data to a less costly secondary storage system once it becomes cold. As such, monitoring data temperature in your primary storage is the key.
Typically, monitoring involves tracking file metadata, which indicates the date the file was created and last accessed. Then again, depending on your business needs, you may have to dig deeper than those dates.
Here are some of the other useful metrics to determine the temperature of your data:
- Frequency of Access
Besides knowing the last day a file was retrieved, it pays to know how many times your employees access it since its creation date. This will give you an idea whether that data is valuable enough to keep in your hot storage.
- Volume of Access
The volume of access to the data matters, too. Say, you have an old file that isn’t frequently accessed but downloaded hundreds of times every first month of the year, would you consider it as cold data? Perhaps, it is a file your workers need to every tax season. Moving it to the cold storage may cost you rather than bring savings. Remember, some data storage providers charge extra for beyond-the-usual download or access rates.
- Percentage of File Change
Updates on a file are likely to indicate that the data is hot. But make sure that the file change is substantial. So, don’t forget to measure the rate of file change when delineating cold data from hot data.
- Type of File Update Actions
Besides the rate of file change, it’s valuable to know the type of actions that constitute to the changes in your data. Assess those actions whether they are significant, given the type of operations you run daily.
Monitoring data temperature can take a lot of time, causing your IT team to forego other tasks vital to your business growth. This is even harder to perform if you’re running a small or midsized business with only one or two IT professionals in your team. This is where outsourced cloud storage and monitoring come in.
The Perks of Cloud Storage and Monitoring
If you’re storing data in a cloud hosted by a third-party provider, you can focus on using the cloud, as opposed to maintaining it and monitoring stored data. Vendors can integrate big data analytic tools into cloud hosting to help assess the value and temperature of stored data. And with their expertise, they can help you decide which files to move from primary storage to a cloud to save on data storage costs.
Cloud monitoring services also often include data backup. At NetStandard, for instance, your business files in the cloud are redundantly backed up, so you don’t lose any important data in times of malware attack, fire or flood in the office, or any other IT disaster.
Moreover, our cloud hosting and monitoring services can be customized. We understand that no two businesses have similar cloud hosting needs. With this capability, we can come up with a custom cloud or hybrid cloud that makes moving data from hot cloud or local storage to cold data storage easier.
Hybrid Cloud: The Best of Both Worlds
A hybrid cloud environment includes an on-site private cloud that’s synchronized with a third-party cloud. Your organization can store sensitive or critical data that needs to be accessible any time in the private cloud. Then you can keep less critical files in a public cloud hosted by third-party public providers like us.
Here are the other benefits of hybrid cloud:
- Flexible IT Environment
The hybrid model allows businesses to have a more flexible IT environment instead of being stuck in one model or the other. Your organization can use certain applications in our data center along with your assets in the private cloud, moving seamlessly between each solution.
- Cost Savings
Running a hybrid cloud can bring you significant savings than having a single storage system, such as a private cloud. To give you a clear picture of your potential savings, here are two scenarios:
Company A stores 100% of its data in the on-premises cloud. It uses 100 terabytes (TB) of storage in a month. Say, the cost of a private cloud is $15 per TB per month. Company A’s monthly cost is $1,500.
Company B also uses 100 TB of storage in a month. But unlike Company A, Company B uses a hybrid cloud. It stores 20% of its data in its private cloud and keeps the remaining 80% in a public cloud. The cost of a private cloud is $15 per TB per month, while a public cloud only charges $10 per TB per month.
Company B’s private cloud storage fee for the month amounts to $300. On the other hand, it pays $800 for its public cloud storage for the month. Its total data storage cost is $1100, which is $400 lower than Company A’s total on-premise storage fees.
If you’re a small or midsized business with operations that rely on big data, $400 savings (this could be higher depending on your hybrid cloud provider) a month is a huge deal. You can use it to fund other business activity or other equipment that could help your business grow further.
- Control Over Resources
Sure, you can always choose a public cloud hosting over a private cloud to enjoy huge savings. But you may not have complete control over your data in a public cloud. Hybrid cloud address this issue as well. With a hybrid cloud, you can have the same sense of control over your resources that a private cloud offers while getting the cost savings and scalability of a public cloud.
- Customizable and Secure
A hybrid cloud gives any organization the option to design their own cloud as they would with any private cloud. You can integrate CRM, email exchange, and other critical business tools into your hybrid cloud. And with our expertise, we will help keep your hybrid cloud secure, keeping your information safe while improving your business workflow.
Outsource Your Cloud Storage from NetStandard
At NetStandard, we’re experts in creating cloud systems that allow for easy storage management and data protection. Our team will work closely with you to assess your business needs and offer data storage options that will help your organization move faster and reduce IT operational costs. We provide flexible pricing, giving you the option to pay per GB or TB of storage or per monthly contract.
Another thing that sets us apart is we’re disaster recovery experts. We’re ready to help your business decrease the risk of data loss due to IT disaster through comprehensive recovery plans. Our plans include regular data backups, archiving, The security of your data in the cloud is our priority, and we have a robust primary data center in Kansas and multiple offsite centers around the US to ensure it.
Whether your data is hot or cold, our team is here to help store and manage them better. Leave your data storage needs to our expert hands, so you gain more time focusing on other tasks that can take your business to the next level. Give us a call today to know more about our cloud services.