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Cloud storage is a storage-as-a-service model that remotely stores, manages, backs up and shares data over the Internet. Digital data is stored in logical pools, while the physical storage may be distributed across multiple servers and locations. Typically, a third-party provider owns and maintains the hardware and network connections, reducing capital expenses for the customer. Customers may add or remove storage capacity on demand, and pay only for the storage resources used each month. The cloud storage fee may include a per-gigabyte cost plus the cost of managing, securing and backing up the data. Most cloud storage providers offer a tiered rate structure, where archived information costs less than frequently accessed information.

Cloud storage may be public, private or hybrid. A public cloud stores data from many customers in global data centers spread across multiple locations. A private cloud stores data behind an organization’s firewall, for a single customer who requires more control over their data. A hybrid cloud stores data in a mix of private and public cloud services. For example, actively used and structured data might be stored in an on-premises private cloud, while unstructured and archival data are stored in a public cloud.

An enterprise-level cloud storage system must be scalable, accessible from anywhere and application-agnostic. It should also accommodate object storage, file storage and block storage. For example, SUSE Enterprise Storage is a scalable, software-defined storage solution that uses cloud storage to provide unlimited capacity for storing all types of enterprise data. Designed as a distributed storage cluster, it allows data access to Linux, Unix and Windows servers in the cluster, enabling worker collaboration in heterogeneous server environments. With SUSE Enterprise Storage, additional storage can be quickly provisioned and delivered as business needs change, and data placement is automatically rebalanced without human intervention.

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