How to store data in the cloud without breaking the bank

Experienced IT managers advise that any form of public cloud adoption, including for storage, should include well-defined policies that outline the creation and lifecycle of cloud resources.

Jeff Rowe | Feb 13, 2018 12:00 am

Data flexibility and accessibility from anywhere are among the top reasons health IT managers are increasingly eyeing the cloud, but storage for rapidly growing piles of health data is also, to put it mildly, toward the top of the list of reasons.

But as Stephen J. Bigelow, senior editor at TechTarget, recently explained, because “most major public cloud providers offer their services a la carte, with pricing based on numerous fees that are assessed by month, use or volume,” the cost can add up quickly.  Some of the common elements of cloud storage pricing include the service type, region, capacity, movement and retention or deletion of data, and Bigelow takes some time to explain these and other considerations.

The service type refers to the storage service you select from the cloud provider, such as Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Storage, high-performance regional or multi-regional storage, to cite just a few offerings from different vendors.

Similarly, Bigelow notes cloud providers typically have data centers in different locations, so the costs of cloud storage can vary by region. Perhaps more obviously, the amount of storage -- or capacity -- users consume each month also affects cloud storage prices.

Another potential cost he points to is the cost of moving data.  “Data movement can be costly because providers charge for interactions, such as puts and gets, as well as moving data to or from cloud storage,” he explains, adding “access costs can vary, depending on the service, tier and resiliency.” Some providers charge for the amount of data written or read to storage -- known as ingress and egress. 

Still another cost can be that charged for deleting infrequently accessed datas or “archival-type storage instances . . . or if deletion occurs earlier than a prescribed minimum time frame.”

When it comes to how to manage storage costs, Bigelow notes “cloud providers offer a suite of online, nearline, offline, archive and other storage types, so select the service that suits the needs of your application. Infrequently accessed and archival storage services can be more cost-effective for backup or long-term archiving tasks. Also, make sure to meet any minimum retention periods.”

Finally, he says, minimize data movement. “Don't use public cloud storage as a primary backup location -- moving huge amounts of data out of cloud storage can impose huge costs. . . . (And) consider redesigning applications to minimize interactions and to lower the costs of cloud storage.”