Cloud storage also has come to represent a class of storage that has features which providers of remote storage find attractive; scalability, cost effectiveness and simplicity of management. These hardware solutions are also in abundant supply coming from established vendors and new start ups. They are being purchased not only by cloud storage providers but also by larger enterprises that need these type of capabilities internally. While they may not actually use the systems as actual cloud storage the initiative is driving a new class of storage system that a wide variety of businesses are finding value in. Nothing fluffy there.
Why then does the term cloud storage then often generate an eye roll or a negative comment like being called "fluffy"? I think part of the problem is that for many in IT circles this sounds a lot like something we used to call Managed Storage Providers. This was an initiative that was an attempt to accomplish something similar to cloud storage in the early part of this decade. Essentially it involved outsourcing all your data assets to someone else and have them manage and protect them. Despite its hype, for a variety of reasons this form of out sourced storage failed. The big issues were lack of bandwidth, lack of technology to intelligently use that bandwidth and overall cost compared to doing it yourself. I guess you could say managed storage was fluffy.
Without the attempt at managed storage though we would not be where we are today with cloud storage. IT just like every other industry learns from its mistakes. Suppliers learn to modify their technologies or invent new ones that will make the next try more workable and users learn to recalibrate their expectations for the technology. This is what has happened with cloud storage. Bandwidth has improved, technology like deduplication and compression have been widely implemented, the hardware that actually stores the data is designed specifically for this use case and users are developing a better sense of how to use the technology.
Cloud storage is fluffy in name only. The hardware and software that drive the technology are becoming increasingly more capable and cost effective. It is also why many businesses of all sizes are looking at it as a viable way to address storage challenges in their environments. It is why we are having our live webinar on the "What's Your Cloud Strategy".
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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.