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Inside the Hybrid Cloud Storage Wars

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When it comes to cloud computing, storage is usually the first thing that most IT organizations think about. While the idea that an external service provider could be used to store massive amounts of data can be appealing, the management of that process across hybrid cloud computing scenarios can be more complex than most IT organizations tend to realize.


In fact, the ability to support hybrid cloud computing within the context of a storage environment is rapidly becoming a major bone of contention within the storage vendor community. Both EMC and NetApp, for example, have committed themselves to sell storage systems that can be used to build either private or public cloud computing platforms, but neither company plans to deliver a cloud computing service. Instead, they will rely on service partners to deliver cloud computing services based on their core technology.


But some cloud computing providers such as Nirvanix are arguing that this will put customers in an untenable situation. They will either have to find ways to bridge private cloud storage deployments that might rely on EMC storage with public cloud storage providers such as Amazon that don't use EMC storage, or limit their options to cloud service providers that have the same storage architecture in place as the customer uses within their private cloud computing platform.


Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix vice president of marketing, says that makes no sense when cloud computing is supposed to be all about giving customers flexibility. Nirvanix, claims Zivanic, is the only cloud storage service that supports hybrid cloud deployments across storage architectures from multiple vendors, which means customers can leverage Nirvanix software to manage storage deployed in a local private cloud, in a private cloud deployed on Nirvanix systems or in the Nirvanix public cloud service.


Zivanic says rival vendors are engaging in a lot of double speak when it comes to cloud computing. On the one hand, they want to be the preferred storage vendor for private clouds, and then ask customers to work with specific service providers that are aligned with those vendors. Zivanic says customers should have the option to deploy storage in any type of cloud architecture they want regardless of the storage hardware vendors involved. At the same time, Zivanic says cloud computing providers such as Amazon leave customers to their own devices when it comes to private cloud computing within the four walls of the enterprise, which is not particularly useful when hybrid cloud computing will most likely be the dominant form of cloud computing.


To further exemplify this issue, Nirvanix today announced a partnership with American Internet Services (AIS) under which AIS plans to allow customers to use its archiving software across private clouds, its own data centers and the Nirvanix public cloud, which is something Zivanic says can only be done via Nirvanix.


At the end of the day, Nirvanix is trying to highlight the potential complexities of data and storage management in hybrid cloud computing environments. In fact, you could argue that it's all that complexity that has been inhibiting the adoption of cloud computing in the enterprise. How IT organizations ultimately resolve this issue remains to be seen, but the one thing that is for certain is that much more sophisticated approaches to data management are going to be required in the era of the cloud.

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