COVID-19 brought a wave of turmoil for enterprises all around the world. Some organizations were prepared for the crisis with their remote working models, while some were not. The successful ones followed some cloud storage best practices and provided a future-ready framework to make WFH ecosystems sustainable, nimble, and resilient.
Several organizations had to rethink their traditional workplace models with the outbreak of a global pandemic. Consequently, enterprises scuffled to support the much-needed work-from-home environments. On-premise infrastructures and skimpy VPN capacities proved to be incompetent to manage the distributed workforce of remote workers. Whereas, organizations that migrated to cloud services efficiently managed their dispersed data and workloads while avoiding service disruptions. The shift to cloud was evident as the cloud computing predictions pointed to a remarkable revenue to $150 billion in 2020.
One of the most prominent advantages of the cloud is its storage strength. Cloud storage is like the new game changer to share data, manage files, and work more seamlessly as a part of any distributed team. Along with flexible scalability and smooth access, cloud storage provides remote workers the liberty to store everything virtually. However, with great power comes great responsibility. And cloud storage is no exception from this.
Cloud Storage and WFH Challenges
Undoubtedly, cloud storage provides several benefits like SaaS productivity integration, levers for complying with regulatory requirements, AI-led services, etc. However, incorporating cloud storage into an enterprise portfolio isn’t always straightforward. Selecting a cloud service provider that fits enterprises’ needs and developing a cohesive cloud strategy are uphill tasks. Besides, migrating the on-premise data to cloud, securing network connections, and keeping multiple data repositories in sync can be quite a scramble.
To help organizations make the most out of their cloud computing models, and skyrocket their productivity graph, here are some best practices split into short term and long-term categories.
Long run practices
Just like Twitter, Facebook, Coinbase, Shopify, etc., many companies have decided to embrace WFH as a permanent solution for their employees. Even after the pandemic chaos is over, several organizations expect to have a high percentage of remote workers. They should consider the following cloud storage blueprint:
- For the new cloud users, cloud migration and setup are the first steps. Organizations must migrate and orchestrate their on-premise user directories to make an actionable cloud storage strategy sustainable. This can make accessing the cloud resources easy for WFH users and improve their performance.
- Enterprises should switch to an application load balancer to move latency-sensitive applications to multiple clouds and optimize client connections. The load balancer helps to distribute incoming application traffic across multiple targets and increases the uptime of applications. Legacy applications work fit and fine with a re-architected approach, but for cloud systems serving a long course, modernization is necessary. Organizations need to refactor their system architecture to use native cloud databases.
- IT architects can use data tiering to move data between different storage tiers. It allows organizations to ensure that appropriate data is accommodated on the relevant storage technology. Data tiering automatically moves unused files to low-cost cloud storage strata and reduces on-premises storage costs.
Short Term Practices
Some organizations are looking up to cloud storage as a temporary adjustment for remote workers. Here are some strategies for such enterprises to meet their prompt WFH cloud storage needs:
- Conventional (Network Attached Storage) NAS protocols such as Server Messaging Protocol (SMB) and Network File System (NFS) are outmoded for on-premise file sharing. To make storage feasible with the cloud, organizations need to incline towards a managed NAS service.
- Organizations must use an application integrated with their standard productivity software to move file shares to SaaS storage products.
- Failover and testing are premium services on the DR side. Several companies never test their failover environment for short-term usage which becomes the “hope and pray” approach for a real disaster. To prevent this, organizations should negotiate testing services with their provider or sign with an MSP for testing services.
The security aspect
Nearly 60% of companies use cloud technologies to store their confidential data. With so much sensitive data residing in the cloud, 84% of IT professionals were worried about cloud security during the WFH shift in 2020. Security is a concern for cloud storage in both short-term and long-term aspects. Some of the most well known cloud security challenges in 2020 relate to:
- Insider Threat
- Data breaches
- Inadequate Change control and misconfiguration
- Weak Control Plane
- Lack of a well-engineered cloud security architecture
- Account hijacking
Cybercriminals will always try to break in and infiltrate cloud systems, however with the right technologies, security measures can become stringent. Assessing the biggest risks and vulnerabilities and considering the regulatory requirements double checks the existing security tools for cloud infrastructures. Organizations need to protect their data at rest and shield data in motion to manage data integrity and maintain operational continuity. A Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) needs to be deployed. IT architects should monitor and analyze user activities with automated solutions to detect intruders.
Transitioning to Hybrid Cloud Storage
A hybrid cloud storage model allows the back and forth movement of workloads and data between private & public clouds & on-premise infrastructure flexibly. Organizations that want to replicate or augment their in-house IT resources with an external vendor should move to a hybrid cloud. Why? Because it enables lower capital expenditure, higher scalability, and more reliability for services distributed across multiple data centers. For a smooth transition to the hybrid cloud for storage, here’s an effective roadmap:
- The first step is to understand the data that needs to be accessed and workloads that need to be performed. For example, sensitive data must remain on-premise, whereas unstructured and anonymized data will benefit from being housed in the cloud.
- Organizations should perform a thorough analysis of their data inventory then determine which data can be more efficacious when migrated to the cloud.
- Lastly, IT mavericks should understand that not every data set would fit in the list. So, only those data sets should be moved off-premises that provide greater flexibility and accelerated workloads for employees.
A hybrid approach aids organizations in using the cloud architecture for remote data backup and disaster recovery infrastructure. A proactive hybrid cloud strategy can be a great way to reduce the latency of remote workers by replicating the application environments in cloud arenas.
The bottom line
A shift to remote work invariably and implicitly means a more generous influx of workloads into the cloud resources. Cloud storage facilitates administrators to scale quickly for accommodating the increasing number of remote workers. Implementing the best practices for cloud storage can help in inventory management, cost efficiency, security, compliance, and automation.