When selecting a new CRM system, often times data storage comes as an after thought.
Do you need a server in-house or offsite? How will the data be backed up? How many servers do you need? Who needs to have database access?
If you select a SaaS CRM, data storage is not as much of a concern. SaaS solutions will often have an online data and backup infrastructure in place.
However, if you select a self-hosted solution then data storage may become a huge project. Self-Hosted solutions may integrate with online data storage company solutions but there will still be effort required to have these two systems integrated.
For many companies online data storage is the perfect solution because it removes the infrastructure burden from you and puts it on the vendor.
Databases are the core of CRM systems. It stores all record information such as accounts and customers.
- Paper based systems are a thing of the past.
- Spreadsheets such as MS Excel can be used to store data, but a CRM database is a much more cost effective and easier way to manage customer data.
- You can choose to self host your data storage but this requires internal infrastructure and an IT departments which many companies do not have the funds to purchase or maintain
Having a database online in the cloud makes data storage even more efficient and cost effective. It allows your data to be backed up, stored, and access all over the internet on third party servers.
Regardless of whether you choose a SaaS or Self-Hosted CRM solution make sure that you discuss online data storage options with your vendor.
What is Online Data Storage?
Data storage is any type of technology that uses media to record digital data, and it is an essential capability in modern computers. It generally becomes larger and less expensive as the data storage moves further away from the computer’s central processing unit.
Data storage may be divided into primary, secondary and tertiary types, depending on its method of operation. Data storage networks are becoming an increasingly common method of storing data.
Online data storage allows companies to essentially outsource their data storage in affordable manner that is accessible at any time online.
Primary Data Storage
Primary storage is directly accessible by the CPU. It is often called memory and is volatile, meaning the stored data is lost when the media loses power. The CPU uses memory to store and execute instructions.
Computers currently have memory that is based on semi-conductors, which has been economically competitive since the 1970s. Virtually all modern computers use random-access memory.
Secondary Data Storage
Secondary storage is not directly accessible by the CPU, and may also be known as auxiliary storage or external memory. It is non-volatile, meaning that the data is retained when the storage media is turned off.
The CPU typically uses an input/output channel to store data in memory temporarily while transferring it to secondary storage. The cost of secondary storage is typically one percent of primary storage and its capacity is usually 100 times greater.
Tertiary Data Storage
Tertiary storage can be easily removed from the computer and transferred to another computer. It often uses a mechanism to mount and dismount the media as required by the system. The data on a tertiary-storage device is usually copied to secondary storage before it is used by the computer.
Tertiary storage is often used for archival data since its access time is typically in the range of five seconds or more, as compared to secondary storage which has an access time of less than 0.01 seconds. Optical drives and tape libraries are common examples of tertiary storage devices.
Traditional mass storage devices are directly connected to a computer and don’t use a network. It is often known as direct-attached storage (DAS) when comparing it to networked data storage.
DAS is still the most popular form of data storage and typically consists of a storage device connected to the computer via a host bus adapter. This connection does not include any type of network device such as a hub, router or switch. DAS uses a variety of protocols such as ATA, SCSI, SATA and Fibre Channel.
Network-attached storage (NAS) connects a secondary or tertiary storage device to a heterogeneous group of computers through a network.
It is a computer specifically built to serve files, as opposed to a general-purpose computer.
NAS devices use specialized software, hardware and configuration that allow the client computer to access file-level data. Computers often share files through NAS devices, which have been gaining in popularity since 2010. Additional benefits of these devices include easier configuration, simpler administration and faster data access.
DAS devices are not necessarily networked together, whereas NAS devices are specifically designed to share files over a network. This gives NAS devices the potential for better performance since they can be tuned to serve files. The general-purpose nature of DAS devices means that components such as storage, memory and CPU are easier to customize.
Both types of storage devices may use additional technologies such as clustering and redundant array of independent disks to increase the availability of their data. The difference in performance between the two device types is primarily due to the congestion and speed of the network.
A storage-area network (SAN) is dedicated to providing access to consolidated data. They primarily use remote storage devices such as disk arrays, optical jukeboxes and tape libraries that appear to be local devices to the clients.
A SAN usually has a separate network of storage devices that it uses for its own storage requirements that isn’t accessible by its clients. Advances in storage and networking technology caused businesses of all sizes to begin adopting SANs more widely during the 2000s.
A SAN only provides block-level access to its data, as opposed to file-level access. Systems that use SANs obtain file-level access to their data with file systems that are built onto the SAN. These file systems are known as shared-disk file systems or SAN file systems.
Online, or cloud, data storage, may take advantage of all of the data storage types above but also takes advantage of web-based and cloud technologies and is managed by a third party, meaning you do not have to worry about. You access your data when you want via the web.
Here are just a couple of examples of data that you may choose to store with an online provider.
Employee data such as Employee ID numbers, contact information and schedules can be stored securely online. This allows management to access information to see how proficient and proactive employees are at closing sales leads, track how many calls they have completed, determine sales quota and mark other areas of progress.
Information that allows businesses to track customer relationships and better understand what drives purchases can also be stored online..
Beyond contact information such as address and phone numbers of existing customers, database often provides a way of tracking demographic information about customers to learn how best to connect with them.
By knowing the household income, or revenue family or business size and geographic location of a customer, a company can choose the best method of getting their attention.
For example, a small company with a mostly online presence and one store location might choose to hold a special store based event. By knowing the geographic area of their customers they can send email invitations only to those who live within a certain radius.
They can also customize their mailing to include information on items in the store and deals unavailable online. For a family of four with two children under the age of six sending an advertisement that offers half price on the purchase of a second educational toy would be more effective than a generic mailing.