Storage as a Service, also known by the acronym “STaaS,” is a managed service where a storage provider supplies a customer with storage space. In the STaaS model, the storage provider handles most of the complex aspects of long-term bulk data storage – hardware costs, security, and data integrity.
STaaS was originally designed for SMEs who lacked the in-house expertise to develop and maintain an on-prem storage solution, but who nevertheless needed a robust and extensive storage platform. Today, STaaS is used by all kinds of business, and can be integrated with some of the best storage management software that the market now has to offer.
In this article, we’ll define StaaS, its relationship to cloud computing, and explain the advantages and disadvantages of this model.
Why Use STaaS?
STaaS can be used for a variety of purposes, from long-term archival storage to short-term transfers of large amounts of data. Since STaaS is a type of software defined storage, the storage capacity available to the customer can vary easily, and can be expanded at short notice without the capital outlay required to purchase extra servers.
In a typical situation, a company will decide that instead of conducting maintenance on a huge tape library of back-ups and archival data, they will subcontract management of these data to a STaaS provider.
They will then sign a service level agreement (SLA) which defines how much storage space will be required to house the data, the frequency at which it will be backed up, and (ideally) legal responsibility in case these data are lost or stolen. In this way, STaaS providers agree to rent out storage space and the customer can greatly simplify their storage infrastructure.
For most companies, STaaS will offer a storage solution that is lower cost, less complex, and more secure than attempting to store huge amounts of data in-house. STaaS is available from a wide range of vendors, including Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), NetApp and IBM, as well as cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
STaaS in the Cloud
Today, most STaaS providers will make use of a public cloud to store data. Utilizing cloud storage has many advantages, and not least the fact that cloud-based storage is easier to integrate with cloud-based applications that rely on these data. If companies are using cloud-based accounting software, for instance, linking this to a cloud-based STaaS system can reduce the latency required to work with these data.
Cloud-based STaaS also offers customers a wide range of functionality and additional services that can be performed without the expertise of a storage engineer. These include disaster recovery, data backup, data storage, bulk data transferred, block storage, and SSD storage to name a few.
The Advantages of StaaS
There are many advantages to using STaaS over traditional on-premises storage models:
- Storage costs will typically be lower, especially for SMEs that are unable to afford the hardware required for on-prem storage.
- Files are synced between local and cloud storage easily and frequently, so you’ll always have access to the most up-to-date data.
- Quality STaaS providers will also offer disaster recovery plans and capabilities that will help you get back to business quickly.
- STaaS solutions are also inherently scalable, and you only need to pay for the resources utilized.
- As long as you or your STaaS provider are using a secure cloud data system, STaaS can be a more secure solution than an on-prem storage system. However, the level of security offered by cloud providers can vary significantly, so make sure that you understand the level of protection they will afford your data.
The Disadvantages of StaaS
Though, for most SMEs, the advantages of STaaS will outweigh the negatives, you should be wary of potential downsides to using this model:
- If you exceed the amount of storage that is described in your contract, you could run into extra costs, and these may be significant.
- Potential downtime can also be a problem – since you do not have control of the servers which store your data, you will be reliant on your STaaS provider.
- Limited customization, since cloud infrastructure is owned and managed by the service provider.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, STaaS provides a flexible, cost-effective way to manage data storage for most SMEs. By removing the necessity to buy expensive hardware, and the need to hire engineers with expertise in data storage, firms that choose STaaS can realize significant cost savings. And, when paired with storage management software, this can save you a lot of time and resources.