Why We Use It: Cloud Storage
From the start, Blueprint has stored our files in the cloud. From memos and media plans to mockups, everything we do is stored "up there."
Many organizations large and small have done this or are considering cloud hosting as well, but I wanted to share a few notes on our experience thus far.
Cloud vs. self-hosting was never much of a question for us, given that:
- We're a small firm (only in people, not in ideas!), so having someone dedicate so much of their time to managing servers wasn't practical.
- We were (and still are) a flexible company when it comes to working remotely. We have staff in DC and New York, but beyond that, some days we all work from home for all of or part of some days. Dealing with the security for that (VPN, etc.) would add to the headache of managing servers.
- Redundancy and security. Maybethis is a subset of the managing point, but really, no one wants to be backing up, verifying backups, etc.
We started out by using a service from Rackspace called JungleDisk. We used this for our first year (all of 2011) and while it (mostly) served us well that first year, obviously we're no longer using that service. Here's why:
- While JungleDisk had a great feature that created a virtual drive that showed up in Finder/Windows Explorer, that feature caused tons of problems. We'd upload files for others to review and they wouldn't show up. Essentially the drive was both caching data locally and didn't check for updates frequently enough, but despite our best efforts, it was a frustrating experience and often negated the idea of cloud storage because we'd end up emailing files all over the place.
- Stability. The service itself went down a couple times, but even scarier, we had files disappear. Thankfully, JungleDisk performed automatic backups and we could get files back, but that too led us to not trust the systems we had in place.
Because of the issues mentioned above (and I alluded to this before), we were emailing attachments around all the time. While this is a pretty common thing for people to do, when you're sending a 5-10 mb file to 6 people, that ends up taking up 35-70 mb (6+the person who sent it in their outgoing folder). Yes, we live at a time where we have terabyte hard drives, but we were chewing through our email quota and using network resources pretty inefficiently.
In fact, in less than a year:
- Amy used up 48% of her 25GB of storage on Google apps
- Emily used about 25%
12GB in about 10 months is crazy. When we started thinking about switching, that was how I knew our storage solution wasn't working for our needs -- our users didn't trust it.
Because of that (and the issues noted above) we started to look at replacements. Stay tuned for Part 2 on what we chose, why, and how we're faring thus far.
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