On both sides of the fence there is a wealth of options from several different brands, but it's critical that decision makers get down to the core of how these solutions operate, their demands on other infrastructure, and how they will affect you or your staff as the end-users.
As there is increasing adoption of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices within Europe, let's consider this option in terms of local storage. Here, you have the flexibility of choosing how much capacity you want, how much performance and redundancy you need, and you can also have remote data access via a personal cloud feature that is offered by NAS devices such as the WD My Cloud EX4.
With a NAS it's easy to transfer large amounts of data quickly to the device via the local network, and when people are on the move; this data can be accessed via a desktop or mobile app thanks to the personal cloud feature. Generally speaking, personal cloud services offered by NAS devices are free of cost and are platform independent, so you can access your data from your Windows or Mac laptop, iOS, Android or Windows Phone handhelds. As your NAS resides within your home or office, you have the added benefit of never losing control of your data.
Given that most NAS devices are power efficient and drives such as the SOHO NAS optimised WD Red are built for 24/7 efficient operation, you're not in for a shock in terms of monthly power consumption. And because your data is stored locally on the NAS, you won't be placing massive upload/download demands on your internet connection, which is also being relied on for web and email service.
In terms of cost, if you purchase a My Cloud EX4 and four 3TB WD Red hard drives, you're looking at a one-time and upfront cost. Running this system in RAID 10, which means you get data striping (increased performance) and mirroring (data redundancy), you will have access to 6TB of usable capacity. You also have the flexibility to upgrade your device's storage capacity by simply purchasing larger capacity drives when needed or by adding a USB drive to the NAS device as a quick fix.
On the cloud side of things, the idea is you buy a specific amount of storage from the cloud storage provider and then upload your content to this central repository. Once this is done you can then access your data from different locations and devices. You can also expand how much storage you have, but there may be restrictions imposed by the provider, so it's a good idea to look at their terms and conditions when you first sign up for the plan and, if possible, opt for a monthly versus annual payment plan, so you have more flexibility.
In terms of how cloud storage affects your existing infrastructure, consider this: since the storage point is remote, you have to upload all your data to the cloud from the start. While it is a simple case of drag and drop, it can be a time-consuming task, depending on the speed of your internet connection. Most home and business connections offer upload speeds that are a fraction of the download speed, and even if you consider a connection with a higher than average 10Mbit/sec upload speed, a 100MB file will take upwards of 40 seconds to transfer - the larger the file, the longer it will take to upload.
You also need to consider that making changes to data is, essentially, a re-download/re-upload job, and although this will likely be invisible to you as the user, it will again be consuming bandwidth on your internet connection, which could slow down browsing and email services. To be able to use cloud storage to the fullest, you need to invest in a high-speed Internet connection and, depending on the volume of data that you work with, you may also be looking at opting for a service with no restrictions on how much data can be uploaded or downloaded. As continuously uploading and downloading data can bog down even the fastest internet connection, you may want to consider putting policies in place where large files are uploaded over night or after business hours.
Considering the aforementioned requirements and depending on which service provider you're with, maintaining a high-speed connection and the cloud storage could be a very expensive proposition, even in the short term. It's for this reason that you should always consider all the variables and pay attention to the total cost of ownership before deciding on what's right for your home or SMB.