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Online data storage is a technology which allows people to store their data on the internet. With broadband speeds becoming faster and bandwidth pricing dropping every year, more and more people are interested in purchasing online data storage from internet service providers (ISPs) or data service providers.

A company would request a certain amount of storage that the service provider offers online. This means the ISP will be saving the organisation's important files on its server, giving customers an agreed size of storage for capacity. This doesn't only provide an additional flexible source for companies to store their data but also acts as a backup mechanism and provides an effective method of sharing data with others.

It's getting better

In South Africa the cost of bandwidth has shown a significant drop in price whilst the Quality of Service has been increasing - which means customers can adopt different strategies for their online storage sapabilities which can include public, private or a combination of both public and private cloud - hybrid cloud.

One advantage of online data storage is that it is easy to expand. Whenever you reach the maximum capacity limit, you can simply purchase additional space for storage. There is no need for you to purchase and install additional storage hardware - and we know how long the process takes for customers to procure additional capacity for their storage environments. Another beautiful feature about online storage is that the user can access data from any location with a computer and internet connection. This is convenient for businesses and home computer users alike.

Hard to do right

Online storage is vitally important but hard to do right. It's mostly a backup function, and not enough people do it. But it doesn't have to be that way anymore. With technological advancements, HP have multi tenancy of data, data provisioning and the ability to manage customers' data through its lifecycle. Companies can quickly and confidently implement online strategies to encompass both private, public and hybrid cloud strategies depending on their need.

What is also becoming important for companies is their ability to effectively and efficiently back up their data and meet regularity requirements. Computers are susceptible to hard drive crashes or virus attacks, so the need to do data backups frequently is the safest way to protect data from getting lost. So when companies want to move to a next generation type of datacentre strategy, they should consider how they want to implement their strategies.

But what about business critical data?

If companies are looking for storage space for some non-sensitive data, then there are basic solutions available. Business critical data, which is a lot more sensitive, requires a different type of strategy whereby a customer can host that data in their own datacentre using hybrid cloud models, or by maintaining an online data storage strategy that requires additional security, which include data encryption and authentication for data to travel across the network.

Today, vendors offer online data facilities. At HP we have built such solutions, one that comes to mind is the one we built for Sir Paul McCartney where he has over 300 TB of personal photos, music recordings and memoirs stored in his own datacentre in the UK as well as hosted data in our US datacentre. This way he always has access to his information.

HP is also able to help customers by transforming their applications and making them more adaptable to next generation technology in converged infrastructures like we have. Added in our IP, we have been able to implement our enterprise security plans into customer solutions as well as have the ability to achieve a hybrid delivery model.

In these types of cases, users typically pay fees based on the amount of space they need. Service Providers can provide you with a fully managed and secure solution with 24 x 7 technical support and monitoring.

For more information - please contact Tumi Pooe on 011-785-1000 or Boitumelo.pooe@hp.com.

The article was first published in TechSmart 98, November 2011.

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