As an organization’s data and needs evolve, so do their monthly cloud storage costs.
There is no denying the benefits and allure of cloud storage that motivated many organizations to move their data there. From scalability to auto-tiering and pay-as-you-go models that prioritize low upfront costs, the benefits were clear and compelling. However, those low upfront costs and enticing pricing models were slightly deceiving.
With rising fees, cloud storage costs are now center stage, leaving business leaders like you wondering where they should store their workflows to optimize performance while reducing costs and OpEx (operational expense).
This article presents four ways organizations can reduce their cloud storage costs without sacrificing critical business functions like performance, scalability, and security.
#1 – Understand your Data Needs and Usage
The first step to lowering your cloud storage costs is to analyze and understand both your data needs and usage patterns. It’s essential to identify the data your organization frequently accesses and the rarely used data.
Understanding which of your data is accessed the most and which is infrequently used enables you to leverage the tiered storage that most cloud storage providers offer. With tiered storage, the older data amassed within your organization but not regularly accessed can be stored in slower more cost-effective storage solutions.
Tiered data storage can also be governed by rules that you define to ensure that critical data is always readily available for your business. This enables you to optimize accessibility while shaving some money off your monthly cloud storage bill.
#2 – Eliminate Redundancy and Unused Resources
The logic is simple: storing duplicated data will duplicate your costs. Of course, every organization should have backup storage as a failsafe for disaster recovery or cybersecurity incidents; however, when referring to redundancy and unused resources, we’re not talking about backup storage.
Simple practices like compressing your data before storing it in the cloud can help keep your cloud storage costs low. Most cloud storage providers even offer existing tools and services to help with compression.
You should also avoid storing duplicate copies of unnecessary data. Using some deduplication techniques to eliminate redundancies goes a long way to keeping your cloud costs low.
Setting up data lifecycle policies is another astute decision if cloud storage cost reduction is a business objective. Automated data lifecycle policies transition data to cheaper storage options or delete it altogether if it’s no longer needed.
#3 – Select the Type of Storage That’s Right for You
Evaluating your storage needs upfront gives you an opportunity to select the type of storage that is best for the data type and use. If done early in the process, you can choose the data that should remain on-premises and very cost effective, and use cloud for the data that requires the benefits delivered by that platform.
Cloud storage providers typically offer different classes of storage, which include:
- Standard Storage: This is typically the most expensive class of cloud storage because it’s used for the most frequently accessed data you have.
- Standard storage ensures limited latency so that your data is instantly accessible, hence the pricier outlay.
- Infrequent Access (IA): Similar to a tiered storage approach, infrequent access storage classes are meant for your data that is accessed less frequently.
- At Amazon, an IA class storage would be AWS S3 IA. At Google, it’s Google Cloud Storage Nearline.
- Ultimately, IA storage comes at a lower price point however there might be retrieval or transit fees which can vary by region and also inflate your cloud storage costs.
- Cold Storage: This class of storage is intended for that data that you rarely access. Amazon offers AWS Glacier for this. Google’s cold storage class is entitled Coldline Storage.
Similar to the infrequent storage class, retrieval times here are slow as well, however costs are also considerably lower. The caveat is that just like IA, cold storage also comes with retrieval costs that can vary by region as well.
The better you understand your data and how it’s accessed, the more informed you can be about allocating which class of storage it should be housed in to minimize your costs.
#4 – Explore a Hybrid Storage Strategy and Store the Right Workflows Where they Belong
The rising costs of cloud storage are encouraging a lot of organizations to adopt a hybrid strategy. While a very compelling and justifiable motivator, money shouldn’t be the only reason businesses embrace a hybrid storage strategy; the use case should also be a primary driver.
Both cloud and on-premises storage solutions are employed in a hybrid data storage approach. In this dual-world setup, cloud storage could be utilized for an organization’s day-to-day data needs. On-premises storage solutions could be leveraged for data that fits the following criteria:
- Data that tequires greater control: This includes sensitive, critical, and compliance-related data like personal information. Heavily regulated industries like financial services, banking, healthcare, and pharma must adhere to strict requirements, controls, and policies to ensure compliance, making on-premises storage solutions the perfect fit for this type of data.
- Data that must comply with strict proprietary security policies: On-premises storage solutions enable you to enforce your security protocols where necessary and not those of a third-party provider. You manage and govern access.
- Data that needs to be accessed instantly: On-premises storage solutions eliminate latency. Data that needs to be regularly and instantly accessed is also a good fit for being housed on-premises.
Another approach with two types of data solutions is to keep all data on-premises and then use cloud storage solutions for your backups or vice versa. Keep your workflows and workloads in the most appropriate data storage system that prioritizes accessibility, speed, security, and of course, costs.
In some cases, like personal data and even backups with robust ransomware protection, that’s on-premises. For other use cases, cloud storage is the optimal solution.
In conclusion, if your cloud costs are getting out of control, these are the four ways you can try to reign them in:
- Understand your data needs and usage to apply a tiered data storage system.
- Employ readily available tactics to eliminate redundancy and duplicated data.
- Select the type of storage class that makes the most sense for your data needs and business.
- Explore a hybrid approach to have the right workflows and workloads in an on-premises storage solution or the cloud accordingly.