Pros and cons of consolidating data into one cloud

By Sue Poremba

The cloud business has grown and matured over the past years to levels that were unimaginable at its inception. Modern cloud providers have data centers spread across the world, or at least in key regions. This allows them to offer high-speed access to data in the cloud regardless of region and also helps them keep data duplicates on different continents.

This proliferation of the cloud has also meant the availability of free or inexpensive cloud storage options –- a boon for small companies working with a tight IT budget. However, it may also mean utilizing a variety of services, spreading data between a number of providers with different options and different terms of services.

So, does it matter if your company’s documents, intellectual property, and other corporate data are stored in various locations or should everything be consolidated to one server?

“It is up to every company how it manages their cloud providers, but, since data is redundantly backed up in different data centers, geographic access is not a problem and cloud infrastructures hardly have down-time issues,” said Bogdan Botezatu, senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender an antivirus software company. “Putting all your eggs in one basket will likely not have an impact on the customer’s business.”

Not to mention, working with one provider could end up working out to a company’s advantage, both financially and with business growth, Botezatu added. “While pricing and other aspects of the business are influenced by the nature of the contract, the advantage of working with one cloud provider is the fact that they can scale the infrastructure at any time to accommodate the customer’s new demands.”

However, Treff LaPlante, CEO at WorkXpress, pointed out situations when consolidation could end up being a major problem. “A primary disadvantage to consolidation is concern for a single point of failure. Even Amazon Web Services has shut down,” he said. “Spreading your critical information across multiple servers or even providers mitigates that risk. However, the development time required to build and maintain a more sophisticated architecture like that has a price. In general, the biggest risk is just a few hours of downtime. It would be grave indeed if a cloud provider permanently lost your data, and I am not aware of that happening very often.”

Botezatu did agree with that point, stating, “At the same time, having the data copied all over the Internet through cloud services may be good for redundancy and back-up but may also increase the risk of data leaks.”

In the long run, consolidating the cloud into one provider can be beneficial to a company’s growth, but for those who want some peace of mind, knowing that data can be easily retrieved if a server shuts down, a little redundancy might not be a bad thing.

Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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