There's an old economics axiom that goes: "You pays your money, you takes your chances." That little bit of wisdom is becoming increasingly appropriate for the cloud.
Reliability has always been one of the chief concerns when it comes to moving data over to the cloud, but most experts maintained that that was only a factor for the myriad small cloud operators springing up across the Web. Surely, a major vendor like EMC would be able to build and maintain a reliable cloud service for the benefit of customers using traditional storage.
Well, think again. The company pulled the plug on its Atmos hosted service this week, urging customers to begin migrating data to Atmos services at various partners like AT&T and Hosted Solutions. And more ominously, the company announced that it will no longer provide service level agreement (SLA) or availability guarantees for data that remains.
The decision caught many observers by surprise. Info-Tech, for one, ranked EMC as a Rising Star in the cloud storage market by virtue of its market presence in the general storage industry. The group had noted, however, that Atmos never got the kind of marketing push needed for widespread adoption, and this may have led to less-than-stellar performance in an increasingly competitive industry.
Conventional wisdom also has it that EMC did not want to compete against its partners for cloud storage dollars. In a way, though, that is a blessing in disguise for customers because, as Ars Technica's John Stokes points out, there is at least a relatively easy migration path to alternate Atmos providers. The real lesson here, he says, is to beware of cloud lock-in in which a single vendor could leave you high and dry if they decide to pull the plug.
Warnings aside, however, it looks like cloud storage of some kind will become a requirement at most enterprises sooner rather than later. With market analysts like IDC predicting a 44-fold increase in total data output over the next 10 years, enterprises will need extremely scalable solutions of the kind that only the cloud can provide.