“Scream now, while there’s still room to breathe.”

That’s an advertising tagline from “The Blob,” an old sci-fi movie about an alien ball of gelatinous goo that consumes everything in its path as it grows uncontrollably larger and larger. That sounds a bit like the data storage environment in most organizations today, doesn’t it?

Data growth is occurring at an astonishing pace. IDC analysts say worldwide data stores are growing by 61 percent annually and will reach 180 zettabytes — or 180 trillion gigabytes — by 2025. Such numbers far surpass what even the most robust on-premises storage systems were designed to handle. This is one reason we’re seeing accelerating growth of cloud storage platforms.

According to a recent analysis from MarketsAndMarkets, the cloud storage market will grow from $50.1 billion this year to $137.3 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent. By some estimates, more than half of all data now resides in the cloud. In fact, cloud storage has now surpassed the hard drive as the top budget line item in IT storage spending.

There are many good reasons for shifting storage to the cloud. With minimal maintenance, easy accessibility and extreme scalability, cloud storage can create significant cost and operational benefits for any organization. These benefits have been particularly pronounced during the pandemic, allowing companies to ensure their mobile and remote employees can get the files they need, whenever and wherever they need them.

Not all cloud storage platforms are the same, however. There are multiple types of cloud storage, and you need to choose one that best fits your operational needs. Here’s a brief look at four popular forms.

File storage. Based on the familiar hierarchical scheme of directories, folders, subfolders and files, cloud file storage offers a readily familiar format for most users. This makes it simple for users to read, write, modify, organize and share files. It’s a good choice for organizations that primarily want to enable file sharing and file syncing.

Block storage. Cloud block storage systems split large amounts of raw data into smaller, fixed-sized blocks and then store them across multiple storage nodes. With multiple paths to the data, it can be retrieved and manipulated very quickly. It is commonly used to store databases or transactional data from enterprise applications such as ERP and accounting systems.

Object storage. Object storage treats all files as unique objects stored in a flat organization of containers. That makes it a popular choice for organizations that must store huge amounts of unstructured data that doesn’t fit neatly into traditional databases with rows and columns. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the data managed by the average company today is unstructured data.

Hybrid storage. Combining cloud and on-premises storage, hybrid cloud storage solutions support block, file and object storage, and make all resources appear as a single pool of storage. Data can be moved automatically from primary on-premises storage to the cloud — and then back again if need be. This approach is useful for data backup and disaster recovery purposes, and it simplifies the process of “cloud bursting” storage for in-house workloads that may occasionally need the added capacity of a public cloud.

Monstrous data growth and the need to support rising numbers of remote workers are creating frightening conditions for many businesses. Give us a call to learn more about choosing a cloud storage solution that can make your storage environment much less scary.