Through all of the hype and excitement brought on by cloud computing, the fact of the matter is that it is delivering real value to enterprises, SMBs and consumers. Companies are increasingly looking to a cloud computing environment to accelerate value in business financials; improve agility, flexibility and innovativeness; and reduce costs. Driven by the growth of cloud computing, cloud storage is quickly growing from a relatively small percentage of the overall IT market to a disruptive, sustainable and significant opportunity.
Contrary to misconceptions about its possible impact on the storage industry, cloud computing is actually quite positive for storage. It's good for the storage service providers and for the storage infrastructure suppliers. As more and more applications are developed and computing resources demanded, more storage is created. According to IDC, storage is the fastest growing cloud service, growing from 9 percent of all cloud service revenues in 2009, or $1.6 billion, to 14 percent in 2013 or over $6 billion of worldwide IT cloud services revenue. The vendors providing storage hardware, software and professional services to the cloud service providers raked in $2.9 billion in cloud storage infrastructure revenue in 2009, according to IDC.
Due to the cloud's rapid elasticity of compute resources and lower cost structure, cloud computing will drive more applications and computing demand that will result in a higher demand of storage across all enterprise storage tiers. In addition to the sheer growth of storage driven by cloud computing, there are opportunities to provide new storage device solutions that will help solve cloud data center cost challenges and operational inefficiencies.
This growth will continue as an increasing number of enterprises experience the ability to deliver more value with fewer resources while keeping up with constant change, one of the many benefits provided by cloud computing. It's most likely that this growth will primarily be focused on the private cloud build-out over the next couple of years.
The bottom line for cloud computing is that the time is now and the benefits are real.
What Is the Cloud?
The cloud is a new model for delivering and consuming IT resources, such as compute (server) resources, data storage, network bandwidth and even applications. The model includes characteristics such as on-demand, self-service; rapid elasticity; measured service (pay-as-you-use); resource pooling and broad network access.
There are three well-known cloud service types:
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where a customer uses a service provider's application over a network
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where a service provider's platform is used to deploy a customer-generated application to the cloud
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), where customers pay for the usage of processing, storage, network bandwidth and other IT resources
There also are four kinds of cloud deployments:
Public, which are typically mega-scale infrastructures used and shared by multiple customers
Private, which are owned or leased for use by an individual customer
Community, which is a shared infrastructure by customers who have a common interest, such as medical centers
Hybrid, which is a composition of two or more clouds
Why Do Clouds Form?
Although many surveys are being conducted to examine the perception and adoption of cloud computing, they are finding similar results. While security and integration issues are the biggest concerns, they have not dissuaded companies from adopting cloud computing. Furthermore, among those companies already using cloud computing, there is a very high satisfaction level. Seventy percent of those that are currently using clouds plan to move additional applications to the cloud within the next 12 months. Cloud computing is becoming a permanent part of the IT discussion and strategy.
So what is drawing companies to adopt clouds? Although there are many drivers, cost savings and agility are the two biggest reasons companies are adopting cloud computing. The pay-as-you-use cost model and CAPEX reductions that cloud enables are some of the top reasons that companies are adopting cloud. Also, cloud computing provides dynamic scaling to quickly provision and de-provision IT resources, which adds tremendous business value to new programs and initiatives that companies need to launch in a timely manner.
Below is a chart that breaks out the driving factors for adopting cloud computing.
Companies are deploying several categories of business applications that are driving rapid data growth and require a more dynamic storage infrastructure to accommodate this growth. Given those deployments and today's dynamic markets, companies need an IT infrastructure that is flexible and can respond quickly to changing business needs. Cloud computing provides the elasticity required to achieve their business objectives.
The big hitters in terms of applications that are being moved to the cloud include: e-mail, archiving, CRM and storage. Also, some industries are moving to the cloud faster than others. The top three industries adopting cloud computing are technology, financial services and legal/professional services.