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    Public cloud storage systems hold enormous amounts of enterprise data, allowing companies to keep data off premises and make remote backup copies. A public cloud environment is one of the top locations for enterprise data storage.

    What is public cloud storage? 

    Public cloud storage is a form of digital data storage that holds data in a remote location from disks or servers (on-premises storage). Cloud storage is dependent on internet access, rather than one physical location. However, data is still stored on physical devices, but it is pooled virtually, set apart from those servers. Data from multiple servers can be stored in one cloud environment.

    Public cloud storage is sold by providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, who store data from many different places and customers. These providers make data storage available as a service and do all the work to upkeep physical hardware, removing that work from enterprises.

    Advantages of public cloud storage

    Because providers like Microsoft Azure perform all of the maintenance work for hardware, such as servers, public cloud customers don’t have to pay for any of the storage hardware upkeep. Not only does this mean lower costs, it also means that enterprises that don’t have a lot of on-premises hardware can still store large volumes of data. Many enterprises don’t have data centers or room for physical data storage. A public cloud supplies the resources by paying for storage as a service.

    Public cloud storage also provides disaster recovery opportunities. Because data isn’t only stored in one physical location, it’s less susceptible to destruction by natural disaster or just a hardware outage. Cloud storage is pooled from multiple servers, and the data is available as long as one copy of the data has not been compromised. Because data is stored in multiple locations, enterprises can recover it more quickly. They don’t have to wait for one single server to come back online before their backed-up data is restored. 

    Disadvantages of public cloud storage

    Public cloud storage providers store data from hundreds to thousands of customers. It’s difficult to keep a record trail of data access. This presents potential security problems: public cloud storage is a risk because access to data is not recorded very thoroughly, and it’s managed by a third party rather than by the enterprise that owns it.

    Another disadvantage is a risk of vendor lock-in, which decreases the control that enterprises have over their data. Public cloud storage solutions aren’t the best choice for businesses that want to keep a very close eye on all of their sensitive data and have the freedom to use whatever software and hardware they want to store it.

    Public cloud market growth and major players section

    The public cloud services market increased by 24.1% in 2020, according to IDC, and Gartner predicted a 23% increase in 2021. Markets and Markets predicts that the global cloud computing market will increase at a 16.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021 to 2026.

    The top three players in the public cloud market are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Other major public cloud providers include Oracle, IBM, and Dell.

    Read more about top cloud service providers: Top Cloud Service Providers & Companies

    Basic tips before migrating to a public cloud storage solution 

    • Create a comprehensive list of all of your enterprise data and applications. Record every requirement, like regulatory compliance, storage space, and computing needs. This will allow you to know what each data source and application needs and whether it’s best suited to the cloud.
    • Keep track of all access controls. Public cloud solutions don’t always keep extensive records of access controls, and your enterprise needs to know all identity and access management policies to be compliant with any data regulations.
    • Be aware of lock-in. Vendor lock-in prevents enterprises from using other technology while paying for a public cloud provider’s storage space. This could limit your business’s ability to use certain software, so know your vendor’s rules before making the final decisions. 
    • Plan financially. While public cloud’s pay-per-use system is efficient for only spending money on what you store, it requires enterprises to be much more cost-aware.
    • Don’t only lift and shift data. Figure out how to optimize cloud resources for where your enterprise applications and data will best work and be most cost-effective. Depending on the cloud provider, database structures can also be different, so funnel data into the right database for your use cases. 
    • Ensure that the public cloud provider offers enough security measures for sensitive data.

    To further develop your migration plan, read 5 Cloud Migration Strategies at IT Business Edge.

    This article was updated Jan 2022 by Jenna Phipps.