What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage actually starts as many cloud-based services do; as a need for a centralized point of data storage. For cloud storage, what we are talking about, is off-site storage, in the cloud, of any type of media and data, to be collected on any device.

Originally, the top cloud services vendors were Box.net and Dropbox. These services used no cloud storage services in the beginning, however, as the internet grew, and the needs of their customers, business accounts and their own needs grew, the cloud became a storage option.

How does cloud storage work?

At it’s most basic level, when you store data in the cloud, you send your request to a central node, server or delegation node. This server controls where the information is actually stored, as well as other information on the data (the meta information). The file is then sent to the physical server, in a complete form, or in virtual “pieces” across the servers within that particular cloud.

As calls come in for the data, either through your web application, business model, public site or via services like FTP, our delegation node calls the data from the housed server; this is all invisible to you and your users. Those delegation nodes and servers, handle all of the back-end concerning where the data is stored, it’s physical name, calls to retrieve and place data and more.

Types of cloud storage services

There are many types of cloud storage services that you use, nearly daily, and never knew they were based in the cloud. In fact, most common web applications and services have been the main catalyst of cloud computing and cloud storage technology.

Web Email

The most recognizable internet email provider is, of course, gmail.com. Google furthered it’s services use of the cloud and cloud storage to eoncompass Google Drive, GMail and Google+ storage across the board, to a max of 30GB of storage.

YouTube and Vimeo

In an article published in 2011 from the Wall Street Journal, YouTube engineer Vijnan Shastri stated that rather than focusing on each server serving a video to get better performance, “the engineers decided instead to break up the videos into multiple pieces, assign processing tasks to ‘hundreds of thousands of machines,’ and then reassemble the pieces at the end”. This cloud computing model, and distributed cloud storage escalated YouTube videos’s speeds to allow for 60% of public videos to go live in under a minute.

Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest

Sites that deal with photography and images use cloud storage to deal with an ever-inflating storage need for space. In 2012, Pinterest Technical Operations and Infrastructure Lead talked about using Amazon AWS for business.

Twitter and Facebook

In November of 2012, TechCrunch wrote aboutFacebook entering the Cloud Storage arena, with it’s ability to store and provide images on it’s platform. At the time of the article, Facebook had over 219 billion photos uploaded to it’s servers.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a file creation, public and private data sharing $amp; cloud storage service offered by Google. What makes Google Drive interesting is that you can create, edit and share Office-style documents online. What’s more, you can use this service on any device, anywhere – the “cloud computing” model of the internet now.

Cloud Storage Concerns

Whenever we discuss public cloud storage, a few conversations start to arise in the business and consumer communities. Most have been addressed over the last couple years, as major vendors like Rackspace, Amazon AWS and IBM have tried to answer these questions, and come up with solutions for customer needs.

Let’s look at a few cloud storage concerns, and some answers that vendors have proposed and given to customers.

Cloud storage security

One major concern of storing data across multiple servers in the cloud, is security; as each action of movement for your data occurs, so too is it open to another round of infiltration. Rackspace does a fantastic job to information you of what actions they conduct on their end to ensure your security, as well as some things you need to do.

Data and media ownership

Data and media ownership in the cloud is a very important issue that vendors and hosts of cloud services are addressing. Amazon, via it’s AWS service, addresses this matter specifically in it’s AWS Amazon Customer Agreement (section 8.1, under Section 8. Proprietary Rights). If you are worried about data and ownership rights, make sure that any contract you sign for usage with a cloud host covers your rights to your data.

Cloud storage lifespan

Sometimes, people new to use a cloud host might want to know if they delete data and media from their host, if the files are truly deleted. Most cloud hosts and cloud hosting providers have certain controls in place to purge data, either as virtual links to files, the files themselves or snapshots (both local and for true cloud computing), after so many days of non-use. However, don’t let these purge actions fool you into believe companies will deleted your used or even archived files…this is not the case. Only those files marked by their owners or administrators as deleted are subject to this mechanic in the cloud hosting.

Long-term cloud storage

Amazon’s AWS offering, Amazon Glacier is a long-term data archiving and storage service based in the cloud. For a charge of $0.01 per gigabyte of storage, your files and data are sent over SSL stream and are automatically encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit symmetric keys. There are terms and conditions for files using this resource, however, it is a long-term, secure cloud storage service to check out.