Best Cloud Storage for Business & Enterprise 2021

Customers looking for cloud storage seek scalability, agility, flexibility, and most of all cost savings. Even if a cloud storage provider seems expensive, cloud storage pricing is still far cheaper then having to buy in-house storage hardware

The process of shopping for cloud storage services has recently shifted. Not so long ago, concerns about security, accessibility, and data transfer rates in the public cloud drove demand for private cloud and hybrid cloud storage. But the major providers have largely addressed these challenges. As a result, the strong push toward the private cloud has faded. Enterprises now have relative confidence that public cloud providers can offer reliable storage at an affordable price in tandem with sufficient data safeguards.

Businesses selecting cloud storage should be aware that public cloud storage is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) that provides block, file, object, and hybrid cloud storage services. While the services are standalone, they are often used in conjunction with compute and other IaaS products. Services are priced in several different ways, primarily by capacity, data transfer, the number of requests, or a combination.

The leading cloud storage vendors provide on-demand storage capacity and self-provisioning capabilities. They additionally offer features like integration with other IT infrastructure, artificial intelligence, or data and application transportation. These cloud storage platforms are worth investment, not only for their position at the top of the market but also for their reliable and powerful platforms.

Alibaba Cloud Storage

Alibaba is well known and well-regarded in the cloud industry, though it’s not yet made much of a dent in the US market with the long-term dominance of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. It is the leader in the Chinese market, is very strong in Asia, and is gaining ground in Europe. 

Alibaba Cloud provides a wide range of cloud offerings that include storage, which makes its cloud storage offering more attractive for firms with international operations. Businesses can easily leverage their other tools — like artificial intelligence – as they use Alibaba’s storage platform. 

Alibaba’s extensive menu is split into several storage services for object, block and file storage. It also offers a cloud storage gateway software appliance.

Alibaba has enhanced its cloud storage capabilities via artificial intelligence, aimed at the image and video recognition markets. The Asian giant’s Cloud Intelligence Brain is advanced AI tech for heavy business analytics and data processing. Given the Chinese government’s intense focus on moving AI forward, it’s likely that Alibaba will continue to be a leader in this technology. It experienced pushback in recent years due to concerns about the dominance of Chinese tech and influence,  but it experienced growth in 2020 and is investing heavily in the cloud storage market.

AWS Cloud Storage

Amazon Web Services is the market leader in cloud computing and offers a comprehensive range of cloud storage services. This includes Amazon S3 (object), Amazon Glacier for long-term backup and archive, and Amazon EFS for file storage. AWS continues to invest heavily in cloud storage, and its dominance of the overall market still appears steady. It looks to make advances in Asian cloud storage, though it doesn’t yet challenge Alibaba as the main provider.

The company has accumulated a huge number of developers and affiliated vendors that have bought into its cloud vision and utilize the S3 API in the cloud applications they develop. These developers and vendors in turn drive the development of still more new storage services. Merely keeping up with AWS’s new tools is challenging.

Amazon also, of course, offers an exhaustive list of services beyond storage, including compute, networking, and a long list of other Big Data and AI capabilities. It competes, then, on capabilities, capacity, and cost at many levels, and is an obvious short-list candidate for anyone considering cloud storage.

Google Cloud Platform

The Google Cloud Platform offers a wider range of different object storage services, as well as block storage for VMs and file storage for applications. There are also archive services, cloud storage for managed MySQL and NoSQL databases, and data transport services.

Google doesn’t have the market share of AWS and Azure, and so lags behind them in market share and in overall general awareness. But under the leadership of former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian, the search giant is working hard to build cloud market share. It sits solidly in third place.

Despite its lower profile, Google’s cloud storage offerings shine when it comes to availability and network performance. It can compete with its rivals head-to-head on raw storage capabilities but is behind them in the sheer breadth of additional cloud services available.

IBM Cloud Storage

A leader in enterprise IT, IBM offers Cloud Object Storage (COS) to support a variety of workloads, as well as IBM Cloud Block Storage and IBM Cloud File Storage. It offers mass cloud data migration and provides on-premise storage options for customers, too.

IBM focuses on high performance rather than raw capacity. It has seemed to lag behind direct cloud competitors like AWS, Google, and Azure because it has struggled in the public cloud market, which is the core market for cloud storage.

However, IBM can scale well and offers durability and resiliency. It is backed up by IBM’s vast partnership ecosystem and installed customer base. It is this loyal audience who is most likely to place IBM on any short-list of vendors for cloud storage. Though IBM is slightly less popular for cloud storage than the big three, it’s a stable, highly-trusted enterprise choice. 

Microsoft Azure Storage

The Microsoft Azure portfolio includes an extensive menu of object storage, file storage, and block storage. Azure offers several tiers of object storage, including Hot (frequently accessed data), Cold (stored for at least 30 days), and Archive (stored for 180 days or more). It also has HDD- or SSD-based storage.

This array of cloud storage services places Microsoft firmly in the number two spot behind Amazon. It is clearly regarded in the tech industry as the biggest rival of AWS on cloud storage. It does battle in the form of price wars in an effort to win business, as well as competing on its feature stack.

The advantage Azure has over AWS is deep integration with other Microsoft services and applications. Windows shops look to Azure for seamless service. This gives Azure a competitive edge among companies operating on Microsoft platforms.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage

Like IBM, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage does not go head to head with Amazon, Microsoft, and Google on storage capacity or on bulk storage cost. Rather, it is ideally suited to organizations using Oracle databases, enterprise applications, and cloud services that have cloud storage capacity needs.

Oracle can offer this customer base a high-performance cloud based on NVMe-enabled cloud storage services. This fits the bill for many Oracle customers who run transactional and big data engines that require high IOPS and need storage platforms that can manage huge workloads.

Oracle Storage encompasses a broad range of block, file, object, and archive storage services. The company offers high performance, ease of deployment, and predictable costs.

Rackspace Cloud Storage

Although it’s a smaller player, Rackspace is well-respected in the cloud market. The company tends to emphasize other cloud services and no longer markets its storage services separately. Instead, they are an additional benefit for those utilizing other Rackspace cloud capabilities.

But its cloud storage capabilities are considerable. Rackspace Cloud Files provides object storage over a CDN which can be used to distribute content to hundreds of locations. Rackspace Cloud Block Storage offers high-performance storage for applications. Rackspace’s OpenStack platform allows businesses to transfer applications, including containerized ones, between cloud environments.

Along with these storage services, Rackspace offers a wide array of related services, including regulatory and compliances services, business data protection, and cloud migration. For enterprises that need flexible cloud storage and other services, Rackspace could be a solid choice.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.

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