What Is Elastic Cloud Storage? A Guide to ECS in 2021
Cloud storage solutions allow businesses throughout the world to quickly and easily access their files from any location, which is a necessity in today’s world. Chances are, you already use one or several of these services within your daily business tasks. Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are some prime examples of personal cloud storage solutions that you may be familiar with.
In a business environment however, the requirements for a storage solution are often much more complex and variable. As you might expect, business will typically require much more storage space than the average user, but that’s not the only complication that needs to be considered.
As well as very high levels of availability, security, and efficiency, businesses are often looking for a storage solution that can scale up or down according to their requirements. Many traditional cloud storage plans only offer fixed storage quotas which might not be sufficient for growing companies.
One solution to this problem is a type of cloud storage solution called Elastic Cloud Storage. In this blog we’re going to give you an overview of what Elastic Cloud Storage is, how it works, some of the primary features, and how secure it is.
What is Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS)?
Elastic Cloud Storage, often abbreviated as ECS, is a form of cloud storage which can scale it’s capacity according to the user’s requirements. In other words, it can increase or reduce the storage capacity whenever required, rather than being fixed to a certain set limit.
As you can imagine, this is invaluable for businesses in countless different ways. Having true flexibility with your cloud storage plan affords you more freedom with your project, website, or application.
Imagine your company has had a stroke of luck and landed a large project. You’ve suddenly found that you need much more storage space than you initially anticipated. Usually this would require you to contact your hosting provider and wait for the technical team to finish their work. However, with an Elastic Cloud Storage plan, your setup will easily scale up to meet your new requirements, without lots of extra hassle.
Conversely, perhaps some of your business endeavours have been unsuccessful and you find yourself needing to cut back on your expenditures. This might mean that you need to scale down your cloud storage solution, as you no longer require the same capacity as before. Instead of having to wait for your contract to run out and change plans with your hosting provider, you can scale down your Elastic Cloud Storage plan to meet your lower requirements, with ease.
These are just some real-world examples to put into perspective just how useful ECS can be for your business, but to get a better picture of exactly what ECS was intended to do, we need to go all the way back to it’s introduction.
A Brief History of ECS
Cloud computing as a concept, has been around for a long time – since before the internet was even a reality for most of us! But in practice, cloud computing was implemented in the early 90s, aimed at providing an accessible “public cloud” computing solution.
Early pioneers of this such as Amazon and Dell soon began to adopt the now commonplace utility-based payment model, where customers benefited from paying only for the utilities or resources that they actually used, rather than a set limit they might never reach. This formed the foundation of “elasticity” in cloud computing as we know it today.
Initially, Elastic Cloud Storage solutions struggled to gain traction, due to the perceived security vulnerabilities and compliance – especially in the financial and public sectors. As these aspects of cloud computing evolved and improved however, public perception changed as a result, and nowadays this type of cloud solution has been widely adopted across nearly every industry you can think of.
How does Elastic Cloud Storage work?
Elasticity by definition, means the ability to grow or shrink, and in essence this is the same in Elastic Cloud Storage.
ECS is a cloud computing infrastructure that has the ability to automatically scale up or down dynamically when required, to adapt to any changes in workload. In practice, this means that resource allocations can be increased or decreased to meet your demand.
Some of the most popular methods of implementing this elasticity include horizontal scaling, and vertical scaling. Let’s take a look at what both of these mean.
- Horizontal scaling, also referred to as ‘scaling-out’, is when a computing infrastructure has the ability to scale wider, to be able to handle higher levels of traffic to and from the system. This means adding more machines to your pool of existing resources, thus increasing the number of nodes that process the traffic, and in turn allowing each node to process less traffic.
- Vertical scaling, also referred to as ‘scaling-up’, is when an infrastructure has the ability to scale taller to provide more power to your existing system. Instead of adding more machines to your pool of resources (like you would in horizontal scaling), you would add more components like RAM or processors to your existing machine.
These two types of scaling are geared towards different scenarios. If you’re looking to better distribute your web traffic or application data, or have the ability to process more of it, then horizontal scaling is what you’re looking for. If you want to ‘upgrade’, or add more power to your existing system, then vertical scaling is what you would use.
Benefits of using ECS
Now that we’ve covered what Elastic Cloud Storage is and how it works, it’s time to explore some of the ways that using it can benefit you and your business, in both the short term and the long term.
Of course, this will vary depending on your environment and how the elasticity is implemented in your environment, but this should give you an idea of some of the most significant benefits you can expect to see when using ECS.
Perhaps one of the biggest and most attractive benefits of using an Elastic Cloud Storage system is the potential monetary savings to be gained.
With more traditional cloud storage solutions, payment is based on a fixed storage limit, regardless of how much of this is actually being utilised. This means that often users are paying for significantly more than is necessary.
ECS plans help minimize hosting costs by charging for only the amount of storage that has been used, and not a higher fixed price. Essentially this means that you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for, which can help save lots of money in the long run as well as on your monthly bill!
Another obvious benefit to an Elastic Cloud Storage solution is the ease, and speed, that an existing infrastructure can be scaled up or down at any given time.
When your business’s requirements change, whether your company is growing or shrinking in size, adapting your cloud storage solution to meet these new requirements is not always straightforward. For many hosting providers, it can be some hassle to change your hosting plan to accommodate any changes, and it is rarely instant.
An Elastic Cloud Storage solution eliminates this problem by providing immediate scaling of resources to meet any requirements, whatever they might be. If you need more storage space on short notice, this can be easily accommodated. Or if you want to downsize your setup and pay less for a smaller capacity, this is also simple to do.
If your application, website, or platform runs low on resources then you may run into serious issues and even downtime – which nobody wants to experience!
Using an Elastic Cloud Storage plan, you can ensure that whatever you’re hosting on your server has the necessary resources to function properly, regardless of any changes. By dynamically scaling resources on the cloud infrastructure, the system ensures that all applications will always have the necessary resources available to use.
In practice, this can save you lots of precious time and money when hosting anything public facing. If disaster strikes and your website goes down due to lack of storage space, for example, you could potentially lose some of your valuable customers!
One perhaps not-so-obvious benefit to using an Elastic Cloud Storage solution is the data redundancy provided, especially when compared to more common forms of storage like local storage.
In a cloud storage system, all of your files and data are held off site or in other words, not held where you’re located. Keeping your data on a cloud storage plan means that your important files are being looked after by industry professionals in a data centre style environment.
Usually the hosting provider will have methods of storing this data in several different locations at the same time, rather than in the one place – which provides you with a level of data redundancy.
In other words if something goes wrong, such as a natural disaster, power outage, or component failure, your important data won’t be lost because it’s being stored in multiple places rather than on a single server. Essentially your data will be secure and safe from any hardware failures, which would be much more difficult to achieve (not to mention more expensive) with a local storage system.
Keeping your data secure is absolutely paramount, especially in these times when data breaches and malicious cyber attacks are all too common. Thankfully, cloud storage solutions help to maintain a significantly higher level of security over your information.
As we’ve touched on already, data redundancy helps to secure your data against any natural disasters or hardware failures. But having your data being held in a secure, offsite data centre also keeps your files safe in a multitude of other ways.
All data centres are equipped with physical access control, meaning only a select few authorised staff members are physically able to be in contact with the servers holding the data. Complex firewalls mitigate the risk of compromises or security breaches, by blocking unauthorised access at the network level. Regular backups are taken to ensure that a copy of your data will always be there, ready to be restored in case of emergency. Strict monitoring takes place, to ensure the safety of all hosted systems. Regulatory compliance is also closely adhered to so that all safeguards meet the industry standards.
These are just a handful of the security features provided by the typical data centre environment.
Elastic Cloud Storage provides an excellent storage solution to any business with changing requirements, that needs a plan capable of adapting to these requirements. Along with the massive flexibility afforded by the ECS solutions, you can also take advantage of an array of important benefits compared to more traditional methods of storage.
At UKHost4u our mission is to help your business succeed, whatever your goals may be. We provide a variety of hosting plans to suit any kind of scenario, and if you’re looking for Elastic Cloud Storage, then look no further. Our Elastic VPS plans offer unbeatable performance and flexibility, at affordable prices.