Cloud computing is believed to have been invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s with his work on ARPANET to connect people and data from anywhere at any time.
Cloud storage is a cloud computing model that stores data on the Internet. A model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (sometimes in multiple locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data available and accessible, and the physical environment secured, protected, and running. People and organizations buy or lease storage capacity from the providers to store user, organization, or application data.
Cloud storage is based on highly virtualized infrastructure and is like broader cloud computing in terms of interfaces, near-instant elasticity and scalability, multi-tenancy, and metered resources. Cloud storage services can be utilized from an off-premises service or deployed on-premises
Cloud storage typically refers to a hosted object storage service, but the term has broadened to include other types of data storage that are now available as a service.
How does it work?
Like on-premise storage networks, cloud storage uses servers to save data; however, the data is sent to servers at an off-site location. Most of the servers you use are virtual machines hosted on a physical server. As your storage needs increase, the provider creates new virtual servers to meet demand.
Typically, you connect to the storage cloud either through the internet or a dedicated private connection, using a web portal, website, or a mobile app. The server with which you connect forwards your data to a pool of servers located in one or more data centers, depending on the size of the cloud provider’s operation.
As part of the service, providers typically store the same data on multiple machines for redundancy. This way, if a server is taken down for maintenance or suffers an outage, you can still access your data.
Cloud storage is available in private, public and hybrid clouds.
- Public storage clouds: In this model, you connect over the internet to a storage cloud that’s maintained by a cloud provider and used by other companies. Providers typically make services accessible from just about any device, including smartphones and desktops and let you scale up and down as needed.
- Private cloud storage: Private cloud storage setups typically replicate the cloud model, but they reside within your network, leveraging a physical server to create instances of virtual servers to increase capacity. You can choose to take full control of an on-premise private cloud or engage a cloud storage provider to build a dedicated private cloud that you can access with a private connection. Organizations that might prefer private cloud storage include banks or retail companies due to the private nature of the data they process and store.
- Hybrid cloud storage: This model combines elements of private and public clouds, giving organizations a choice of which data to store in which cloud. For instance, highly regulated data subject to strict archiving and replication requirements is usually more suited to a private cloud environment, whereas less sensitive data (such as email that doesn’t contain business secrets) can be stored in the public cloud. Some organizations use hybrid clouds to supplement their internal storage networks with public cloud storage.
- Companies need only pay for the storage they actually use, typically an average of consumption during a month. This does not mean that cloud storage is less expensive, only that it incurs operating expenses rather than capital expenses.
- Businesses using cloud storage can cut their energy consumption by up to 70% making them a more green business.
- Organizations can choose between off-premises and on-premises cloud storage options, or a mixture of the two options, depending on relevant decision criteria that is complementary to initial direct cost savings potential
- Storage availability and data protection is intrinsic to object storage architecture, so depending on the application, the additional technology, effort and cost to add availability and protection can be eliminated.
- Storage maintenance tasks, such as purchasing additional storage capacity, are offloaded to the responsibility of a service provider.
- Cloud storage provides users with immediate access to a broad range of resources and applications hosted in the infrastructure of another organization via a web service interface.
- Cloud storage can be used for copying virtual machine images from the cloud to on-premises locations or to import a virtual machine image from an on-premises location to the cloud image library. In addition, cloud storage can be used to move virtual machine images between user accounts or between data centers.
- Cloud storage can be used as natural disaster proof backup, as normally there are 2 or 3 different backup servers located in different places around the globe.
- Cloud storage can be mapped as a local drive with the WebDAV protocol. It can function as a central file server for organizations with multiple office locations.
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