These needs are being driven by the reality of the times in which IT lives. You no longer have the luxury of throwing out your old storage system every three years and getting a new one. You have to get more out of your current one. You must be able to upgrade capacity or add performance, not throw the whole thing out.
It is also being driven by the user demands and regulatory realities of keeping data longer. Many storage managers have just given up and are retaining data forever. While I don't advocate that strategy it is happening. Whether its seven years, ten years or indefinitely this is causing another problem; you can't store it all in your own facility, you have to put it somewhere else. Cloud storage providers are a viable option for retention of this data. Finally today's business are increasingly disperse. All the employees are no longer on the same network. Shared application access, file collaboration and content distribution are also ideal uses for external cloud storage.
External cloud storage providers have a laser beam focus on keeping costs down and probably understand more than most that the physical cost of storage is only part of the equation. It is the cost to manage, expand and protect that data that will put them out of business. The storage architectures that are being developed to allow external cloud storage providers to profitably offer these services are the same architectures you need to support internal applications and users.
Whether you call it your internal cloud storage or not really is not the point. The point is you need a storage system that can grow its performance and capacity in small, granular chunks without a forklift upgrade. It needs to do this while being able to be managed by as few people as possible in as little time as possible. That is what many of these cloud storage architectures do.
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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.