Cloud storage providers want your business, and they are actively exploring numerous strategies to get it.
However, catering to professional organizations is much different than catering to individuals, even if those individuals use their personal clouds to house business data. And the provider, or providers, who can establish robust, enterprise-friendly storage environments will reap a substantial reward as organizations look to scale infrastructure in order to take on Big Data and other challenges.
This is why so many cloud providers are introducing a wide range of top-tier storage features in their platforms. Box, for example, recently added a new administration console that aims to extend visibility and control into its hosted environment. The system includes protections for personal data like credit card numbers and Social Security information, as well as data and traffic analysis tools to help organizations better manage resource consumption and red-flag unusual usage patterns. There are also new automation and content management suites with improved workflow and search functions.
With Amazon currently sitting atop the cloud storage market, however, companies like Box have their work cut out for them. Amazon, in fact, is toying with the idea of integrating hybrid cloud environments that would give the enterprise greater sway in the utilization of public vs. private resources. The plan even involves (horror of horrors) an Amazon hardware appliance within the enterprise to act as a bridge between client-side and hosted infrastructure. The company has also partnered with NetApp to incorporate direct ties between on-premise NAS infrastructure and the Amazon cloud.
If small providers hope to compete for the enterprise market, they’ll need to scale up their infrastructure, and quickly. New Jersey’s Datapipe hopes to tackle this problem with Flash storage technology from SolidFire. The company’s all-SSD platform enables users of Datapipe’s Stratosphere cloud to adjust performance on-demand independently from capacity, all without having to undergo a complex and time-consuming data migration. The goal is to provide a fully elastic cloud storage infrastructure in which enterprise users can simply set their level of performance and go.
Some providers are even turning to traditional data center platforms to give their clouds a more unified look and feel. Dropbox, for example, recently teamed up with Dell to integrate its storage and file-sharing platform directly into its enterprise data protection suite in order to gain needed tools like usage monitoring, encryption and email management for the Dropbox for Business offering. At the same time, Dropbox is partnering with multiple software developers and even a few telecoms to provide a higher level of service to enterprise customers. With Dell, of course, Dropbox also gains access to the still vibrant enterprise channel community.
At the moment, the cloud is capable of providing additional capacity and basic level storage functionality, which makes it a valuable tool for data bursting and rapid scale. But the idea of a fully integrated public-private-hybrid storage environment is still a bit premature.
With top providers looking to build more enterprise-friendly infrastructure, at least the ball is moving in the right direction.