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Compare cloud vs. local archive benefits and drawbacks

Local archives allow companies to use hardware they already own and save on cloud subscriptions, but cloud archives remove hardware maintenance tasks and costs.

Organizations can reduce primary storage consumption without abandoning data retention requirements by moving aging...

or infrequently accessed data to a lower performance, lower cost storage tier. But IT pros must determine whether it is better to use the public cloud vs. local archives.

The biggest advantages of using a local archive include using existing storage investments and having easy access to the data. If an organization already has storage that is suitable for archiving, then it would probably be a waste of money to move the archives to the public cloud. Local archives also offer low latency access to the data and the peace of mind of knowing that the data lives in the corporate data center and is under IT's control.

Local archive storage is not without its disadvantages, however. In organizations that already own the hardware, there are maintenance costs to consider, such as patch management, data backup or replication, power and cooling costs, and periodically replacing storage media in accordance with its estimated mean time to failure.

Cloud vs. local archives

Archiving data in the public cloud can be especially attractive for organizations that are on pace to outgrow their local archive storage hardware and therefore face new hardware acquisition costs. One of the most attractive aspects of cloud vs. local archives is that public cloud storage providers do not require customers to make an upfront investment in storage hardware. And some of the major providers offer storage that is specifically intended for archived data.

But if an organization already has a significant volume of local data, moving it to the cloud can be challenging and time-consuming. Some providers offer an offline file transfer system that allows customers to avoid uploading data to the cloud. For example, Amazon offers a service called Snowball, which allows subscribers to copy their data to a physical storage appliance and then ship it back to Amazon for migration to the cloud. This method makes the data transfer process easier, but organizations must consider the costs and potential security issues.

Another major consideration is the ongoing cost of storing data in the cloud vs. local storage. Each public cloud provider has its own cost structure, but most providers bill customers on a per-gigabyte, per-month basis. But costs are not typically based solely on the storage capacity consumed. Cloud providers commonly charge customers a fee for accessing the data. Cloud providers assume archived data is static and seldom accessed, and the fee for accessing archived data is higher than the fees for accessing other types of storage.

This was last published in March 2018

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