Recent news about Amazon Web Services’ new Glacier cloud storage offering raises new questions about the viability of long-term storage in the cloud. Is it a good idea to store large amounts of data in the cloud for archival purposes?
The essence of long-term cloud storage is that companies can move large amounts of data (often in the form of backups or archives) to the cloud for a relatively low price and store them there indefinitely, only paying a low per gigabyte/per month fee. The data is the type that a company would not need to access very often but that would be available whenever it is needed.
The benefits of long-term cloud storage are clear. No longer would a company have to deal with costly, bulky mass storage systems that use tape or optical archiving. They would not have to manage or maintain those systems, and they could possibly save money in the process.
The disadvantages to this type of service are that the initial process of sending data to the cloud could be quite costly in terms of bandwidth and work hours. One alternative that Amazon has suggested is to send the physical media to them via the postal service. While this is certainly possible, it is not an ideal scenario. The other, perhaps more frightening disadvantage, is that a company must trust the cloud provider with an enormous amount of data. If something goes wrong, an organization’s entire legacy could be lost.
Long-term cloud storage definitely has its appeal, and if a company or other organizations finds that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, it is worth considering. It is inexpensive and could be the best solution for many looking store information for the long term.