Your data has value...protect it and keep it close


You probably haven't put a price on your data, but it hasn't stopped millions of people from supplying data on themselves to corporate social media platforms which monetize it through ad sales. 

Many businesses and organizations store some or all of their data in public cloud storage owned by for-profit corporations who collect rent for storing data. Their fiduciary responsibility is to their shareholders and not you. Your data is yours as long as you pay the rent and that includes paying to get it back from them if you don't want to keep it there.

Criminal groups steal data all the time. Hardly a day goes by without news of some organization losing control of their data due to theft or having it held hostage. Sometimes people fail to secure it or are scammed, but there is no doubt your data is worth something.  It has value not only to you but to others interested in monetizing it, storing it or stealing it.

Data is the lifeblood of organizations and businesses. Storage is the foundation of the computer age. Data storage is also increasing at an accelerating rate because most everything we do creates data, and it must be stored somewhere for some duration. 

Before the Internet, data was stored and accessed within the confines of an organization or remotely accessed over private networks. In the early 21st century, corporations got into the business of using the Internet to deliver data storage as a service to customers. Public cloud data storage services have expanded tremendously since then. Today, no one knows how many trillions of "data objects" are stored in public clouds.

There are two well-known models for storing data at scale. One is public cloud storage where the service provider controls the infrastructure. Public storage clouds have pluses and minuses. People tend not to think about the minuses. The other model is private cloud storage where you control the infrastructure. Private storage clouds work fine, but their deployment has been slow because organizations are unfamiliar with them.

A lesser-known third model is community cloud storage. Community storage clouds are closer to you than a public cloud but not as close as a private cloud on your premises. A community storage cloud formed as a mutual-benefit, nonprofit corporation accepts organizations as members. Members have a voice in shaping its policies and procedures. Transparency is the key to the success of a community cloud because it must build trust with the members.

So how can your data be protected from exploitation and expropriation? Private and community storage clouds are good ways to protect your data, and they give you the most control over it.

Combining private storage clouds with a community storage cloud has synergism. You can keep your hot and warm data in your on-premises storage cloud. And when it cools off, which could be as soon as 90 days, you can migrate it to an off-site community cloud in your region, so you don't have to keep enlarging your private storage cloud. 

So how can you figure out if you should build a private storage cloud or become a member of a community cloud? And would it make sense to do both? It depends on your use cases for cloud storage. If you need the lowest possible latency when accessing your data, then a private cloud on-premises would be a good choice. However, if slightly higher latency is tolerable, then storing your data in a community cloud would also be a good choice. If you have use cases that benefit from the lower latency of a private cloud, you can still migrate your data to a community cloud as it gets cold or old.

How do private and community clouds protect your data? Protection is implemented by using replication, which makes copies of your data objects and by erasure coding, which slices your data objects into pieces and adds error correcting pieces to protect them. Erasure coding uses less disk space than replication, but you can mix and match how you use them.

What about the cost of storing data? The cost and management of data storage is one of the top four line items in any information technology budget. Cloud storage can reduce these costs by up to 70 percent, but which storage model makes the most sense?

Public clouds attract customers with low "at rest" charges for data storage. A low "at rest" storage charge can be deceiving because you will be charged for every "operation" when you access your data, and there are "egress" charges for moving your data out of their cloud. All of these charges can make it difficult to understand and anticipate your monthly bill. 

A community storage cloud can have a policy not to charge for "touching" and "moving" your data. Community and private storage clouds make it simple to determine the cost of your data storage.

There is no one cloud fits all solution when it comes to data storage. Public cloud storage providers dominate the market for off-site data storage, but they don't have the only game in town.  If you are in New England and interested in keeping your data closer to you than say Virginia or Oregon, and having more control over your data, then private cloud storage and community cloud storage are viable alternatives.

MonadCloud builds private cloud and community cloud storage in New England using Cloudian HyperStore software and Lenovo storage servers.