The Coming Cloud Storage War

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Accelerating the Enterprise Adoption of Public Storage Clouds

Seven key attributes public storage cloud must possess to earn the confidence of enterprises.

It's no secret that IT organizations are now being inundated with data, most of which is unstructured. Continuing to buy storage systems to manage all the data - the majority of which is not even frequently accessed - is becoming cost prohibitive. As a result, many IT organizations are now starting to look to the cloud as a viable alternative for storing Tier 2 and above data.

The issue that many of these organizations have to navigate, however, is that not all cloud storage services are created equal. In fact, the number of enterprise-class storage services in the cloud is relatively small. For example, Amazon and Google are probably two of the best-known names in cloud storage. But their business models in the cloud provide little in the way of actual support and they charge a lot of fees for moving data in and out of their clouds.

In contrast, IBM via a new partnership with Nirvanix plans to provide a cloud storage service that not only includes extended support, but all-inclusive fees as well. Nirvanix CEO Scott Genereux says the implications of such a service coming from IBM are profound. It means that the number of storage systems that are being sold and managed on premise should drop considerably. Genereux adds that this is a step that EMC, NetApp and other storage system vendors have been reluctant to take because their business models are dependent on selling as many storage systems and software licenses as possible. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is all about the efficient management and utilization of those storage systems. Storage vendors are generally content to let business partners sell cloud storage based on their storage technologies, but Genereux says storage vendors are reluctant to directly promote the use of storage in the cloud at this point for obvious financial reasons.

Genereux says that what differentiates Nirvanix cloud storage is that it was built from the ground up using a multi-tenant architecture based on a true global namespace operating environment that leverages object-based storage management software to make sure that any change to a file is instantly reflected across the entire cloud. Those files can be of any size because the Nirvanix platform, which spans multiple global data centers, was designed to handle petabytes of data, he said. In addition, that capability means the Nirvanix cloud is not only self-healing, in that files are continuously checked for data integrity, it's backed up with military-grade security and service level agreements that reflect five nines of data availability. That platform can also be integrated with any number of on-premise storage systems to create a hybrid cloud storage architecture.

To what degree traditional enterprise organizations embrace cloud storage remains to be seen. But it's clear that there is now another viable option for managing data storage that with each passing day continues to spiral out of control. The only real challenge is going to be figuring out what data needs to be relatively close at hand for use in Tier 1 storage systems that are tied to production applications, versus all the rest of the data that could theoretically be stored anywhere.