In many organizations, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) continue to gain acceptance over on-premises server and network infrastructures. If you’re new to the term, storing data “in the cloud” simply refers to using an outside vendor to own and maintain the storage media where your data resides, as opposed to traditional in-house hosting. “Software-as-a-Service” refers to a model in which software, rather than being installed in-house, is centrally hosted and provided/licensed on a subscription basis. As a testament to the model’s growing acceptance, its demand may be exceeding current capacity. The Gartner Group reports a whopping 40-60 percent annual growth in demand for cloud storage capacity, while market research firm HIS iSuppli estimates the growth of actual cloud storage capacity at about 20 percent annually.

For many users, the transition to SaaS and cloud storage is a no-brainer:

• Only pay for storage actually used while simultaneously utilizing economies of scale
• Alleviate problems with installation, implementation and maintenance
• Scale capacity up and down as needed
• Leverage the security and expertise of secure cloud facilities and remotely-maintained software

Some of the advantages (translation: cost savings) are obvious. First, you’re gaining access to potentially unlimited storage space, yet it’s completely scalable – you pay only for what’s actually needed. So, not only are you no longer paying for the actual hardware itself in the short term, you’re freeing yourself from having to worry about upgrades and backups. And the benefits don’t stop there – there’s also the savings with not having to provide the physical space to house a data center, along with the requisite expenses associated with providing power to the equipment itself as well as creating acceptable security and environmental conditions. Plus, having the data isolated from your physical location could be an advantage in the event of a natural (or other) disaster. Disaster recovery and restoration is the vendor’s problem, not yours – and not having to maintain the physical components in-house may even translate to personnel savings, as fewer people will be needed to maintain the equipment and associated physical facilities.

Then there are the intangible benefits. Since cloud-based data is, by definition, accessible from anywhere via internet or WAN, you’re potentially laying the groundwork for a more collaborative, mobile workplace.

Does this mean on-premises solutions are going away completely? Probably not. For one thing, moving data to the cloud means giving up one important facet of your business: control. The performance, integrity, reliability and recoverability of your data rests with your vendor. That’s a lot of trust to place in a third party. What if they prove to be unreliable, or even worse: what if they go under? What happens to your data? For some organizations, especially those in highly-regulated industries, the idea of giving up control of data is unacceptable or incomprehensible. Records management vendor Iron Mountain recently polled a number of European firms and discovered that 46 percent of IT departments prefer to maintain complete control over any sensitive or business-critical data.

Common SaaS applications such as Office 365 are gaining acceptance, however, and as companies become increasingly comfortable with hosted solutions; we should expect to see continued growth in this area.

Simple demographics may play a role in this trend. A survey by Strategy Analytics indicates that most current personal cloud users are in their early twenties, and use cloud storage to access media and music files. As more of this generation joins the workforce, and as mobile devices become more prevalent in the workplace, cloud usage is bound to become more commonly accepted.

To learn more about Sherpa Software’s hosted and on-premises solutions, contact your Sherpa sales representative today.

References: CIO Insight, Prosecurity Zone, Sonian