What is cloud storage ?

The cloud storage refers to a service that allows individuals, organizations and businesses to store, manage and access digital data and files. It uses remote servers for storage instead of local hard drive. These servers are typically housed in data centers and maintained by third-party providers. They are accessible through an internet connection.

Popular examples of cloud storage services include Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud and Amazon S3. These services offer varying levels of storage capacity, features and pricing plans to cater to different user needs. Let us understand cloud storage infrastructure requirements and types of cloud storage.

Cloud infrastructure is nothing but resources required to provide cloud storage service. The cloud storage service is beneficial for data storage and data retrieval. Cloud storage infrastructure consists of software and hardware components as shown in the figure-1 below. It includes servers, storage devices, virtualization softwares, operating systems etc. These components are useful to meet the requirements of cloud computing as outlined below.

cloud storage infrastructure

The difference between cloud storage infrastructure and traditional data storage infrastructure is that in cloud storage file access is done remotely over network using web API services. Moreover it is built on object based storage platforms.

Cloud storage service providers typically installs and owns the equipments neded. The equipments include storage hardware, servers and other networking components. This model is known as Infrastructure-as-a-service or IaaS. In this model client or user pays based on use basis and infrastructure is owned by service provider.

Cloud Storage types

The types of cloud storage can be categorized as per its use cases, features and storage characteristics introduced by cloud providers. The choice of specific type depends on factors such as data storage needs, performance requirements, budget considerations etc.
• Personal cloud storage : It is designed for individuals to store and manage their data such as files, photos, videos and other documents. Examples : Dropbox, Google drive, iCloud, microsoft OneDrive etc.
• Enterprise cloud storage : It is designed for businesses to store and manage their data. It comes with administrative controls and access permissions. Examples : Google Workspace, Amazon S3, Microsoft SharePoint etc.
• Object storage : It is designed to store unstructured large amount of data. It uses flat address space with Object IDs to store/retrieve data. Examples : Azure Blob storage etc.
• File storage : It provides way to store and manage files in hierarchical structure. It is used to share and collaborate on files within teams. Examples : Dropbox business etc.
• Block storage : It offers raw storage volumes that can be attached to virtual machines (VMs) in cloud environments. Examples : Amazon Elastic Block Store, Azure disk storage etc.
• Cold storage : It is designed for infrequently accessed data which requires to be retained for long period of time. Examples : Amazon Glacier, Google cloud storage Nearline etc.
• Hybrid cloud storage : It combines on-premises storage infrastructure with cloud storage services. Examples : AWS storage gateway, Azure Hybrid storage etc.
• Multi-cloud storage : It involves multiple cloud storage providers to distribute data across different cloud environments. Examples : Using Amazon S3 and Google Cloud together.
• Ephemeral storage: This type of storage is needed during the time virtual machine is running. The storage memory is brought to the pool once virtual machine is shut down. EXAMPLES: Boot volumes, temporary data operations, page files.
• Persistent storage: This type of storage is needed across virtual machine reboots. The memory is retained even during the time machine is shut down. EXAMPLES: Gold images or master templates, critical user data and systems customizations stuff

Cloud storage infrastructure requirements

Setting up a cloud storage infrastructure involves several key considerations and requirements to ensure optimal performance, reliability, security and scalability. Here are some of the key infrastructure requirements for implementing a cloud storage solution.
➨Define architecture of storage solution and types of storage services required by the users. Need to determine layout of storage nodes, data distribution strategies and redundancy mechanisms.
➨Implement data redundancy techniques such as data mirroring, replication to ensure data durability and to protect against hardware failures and data loss.
➨Design your infrastructure to be scalable which allows data storage capacity to be incresed or decreased as per data requirements. Consider using auto-scaling mechanisms.
➨Ensure robust and high speed network connectivity between storage nodes, data centers and users.
➨Implement strong data security measures, including encryption (both in transit and at rest), authentication mechanisms, access controls and intrusion detection mechanisms.
➨Set up monitoring and management tools to track the status and usage of storage infrastructure.
➨Establish backup and disaster recovery strategies to protect against data loss and natural disasters.
➨Plan for efficient data migration and transfer processes when transitioning to the cloud storage solution.
➨ Ensure that your cloud storage infrastructure can seamlessly integrate with the applications and services.
➨Develop a clear understanding of the cost structure associated with your chosen cloud storage solution.
➨Choose a reputable cloud storage provider with suitable SLAs(service level agreements) and support.
➨Consider the geographic distribution of your data centers to optimize data access for users in different regions. This reduces latency and improves user experience.
➨Implement data lifecycle management policies.
➨Test your cloud storage infrastructure before deploying it in a production environment.

Conclusion : Overall, cloud storage infrastructure offers efficient, cost effective and flexible solution to store, access and manage digital data. It offers wide range of benefits to users and organizations of all sizes.

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