System Admin Guide to Cloud Storage

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Cloud storage is slowly replacing local on-premise storage systems as the medium of choice for IT enterprises. This flexible, new-age solution stores data remotely without taking up physical space in the workplace or gigabytes on your system. All your data gets transferred online and stored offsite by a third-party, ensuring you can access your files anywhere, anytime, as long as you have a working Internet connection.

How Cloud Storage Works

Cloud storage uses hosted servers to store your data. Hosting companies own and manage the remote servers. Given the number of cloud storage providers in the market right now, the maintenance and size of cloud storage systems vary considerably depending on the provider. Small cloud storage systems can consist of just one data server connected to the Internet, while some systems – such as server farms – occupy whole warehouses.

Many of the leading cloud storage providers like Amazon S3, Azure File System, Amazon Glacier, and Wasabi maintain large data centers like those to store data from across the world.

So which cloud storage is the best for IT system admins? Well, every provider has its share of pros and cons, and we’re here to help you make an informed decision for your business:

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

This is one of the most durable, secure, and high-performing cloud storage services in the market right now. It not only manages accounts at each level but scales on demand and provides insights thanks to built-in analytics.

The web interface is extremely easy to use with excellent reliability and security. Highly configurable, Amazon S3 also boasts flexible storage and pricing options. It’s no wonder the storage provider has become the industry standard for IT data storage, especially when it comes to enterprise operations. However, the fact that Amazon developed S3 to be an IT-oriented solution doesn’t make it any less user-friendly.

Amazon S3 does not feature backup applications or storage sync. Instead, it comes bundled with IT-centric APIs and tools. Plus, desktop functionality requires third-party products and the pricing structure can be somewhat confusing. Overall, it is efficient, secure, and cost-effective.

AWS Glacier

If your IT firm deals with archival data that requires backup without the need for regular retrieval, Amazon Glacier is a perfect choice. This is one of the cheapest cloud-based data storage options that can be used as part of the whole suite of Amazon tools without leaving the familiar stack.

What makes AWS Glacier stand out is the efficient backup storage where the data becomes tiny fragments of the whole project, costing considerably less than other solutions. Your data stays secure. This special storage class trades access time for a price, which means reading data from AWS Glacier may take hours or even days. So, long-term access is your best bet.

The fact that bucket and data deletion requires inventory is a drawback. Also, data retrieval may prove expensive since the download quota for system admins is a small percent of the storage.

AWS Glacier constantly adds new, powerful additions such as:

  • The ability to upgrade restore speeds upon request
  • The ability to send objects directly
  • Additional, lower-priced storage tier called S3 Glacier Deep Archive
  • The ability to receive S3 event notifications after data retrieval

Such additions make this solution an even stronger option for long-term archival.

Azure Files

Azure Files provide fully managed file-sharing services in the cloud that can be accessed by IT companies. Mount Azure File shares on the cloud and cache it on Windows servers using Azure File sync for quick access.

Azure Files will prove useful if your IT company deals mainly with standard file extensions like .png, .docx, and .bak. It simplifies cloud development and can “lift and shift” apps. Azure Files, however, cannot split files and you must rely on third-party vendors.

In case of disaster recovery, Azure Files users can try Copy File to asynchronously copy file share to the destination user storage account.

Wasabi

Launched in May 2017, Wasabi is a relative newcomer in the cloud storage arena. However, the company has experienced tremendous success within a short period. This is mainly due to the solution itself, which is blindingly fast, affordable and secure, making it highly accessible to IT companies.

If you want a cloud storage option that is cheap and quick and is not concerned about a few rough edges, Wasabi is the best option out there. There is no sync tool available for the storage provider along with no official mobile apps. You must pay extra for telephonic support.

Price Comparison

Price is often the deciding factor when choosing the right cloud storage provider, as most system admins work with a limited IT budget. Here’s a detailed comparison of cost-efficiency between all the aforementioned services.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 starts at $0.023 per GB every month for the first 50 TBs. This means that the price drops as the total data stored in Amazon S3 increases, and you pay precisely for what you use. This makes it difficult to provide an accurate entry-level cost estimate. However, there is a calculator available if you wish to estimate your total monthly cost.

A free tier is available from Amazon for the first 5 GB of data. This is a great way to determine if the service meets your IT company’s requirements.

AWS Glacier

Amazon S3 Glacier is the lowest price point available and it supports long-term data storage and backup. Access times can be quite slow so the price rises the quicker you wish to access your data. However, transferring data up to the service is free.

Azure Files

Standard Azure Files storage costs $0.06 per used GB. It costs $0.015 to create every 10,000 container operations, at the same rate for every 10,000 list operations.

Wasabi

Wasabi gives Amazon Glacier stiff competition when it comes to pricing at the low, low price point of $0.0049 per GB. There is a minimum waterline of 1 TB storage, however, which means users must pay a minimum of $5 per month. However, it’s still considerably cheaper than what Microsoft Azure and AWS charge other system admins.

Wasabi has eliminated download costs but you can still opt for the plan at the cheaper price of $0.0039 per GB for space. The basic version of the support plan is free, but premium costs $300 each month.

Concluding Remarks

Selecting the right cloud storage provider for your IT company requires careful consideration, especially from a business perspective. Consider your budget and options, and choose a provider who offers the optimal amount of bandwidth, data security, and storage. We always recommend trying any free plans available before reaching a conclusion!