I will try and post the recent happenings in the Storage world in my blog every week. Atleast I will try In this post let’s talk about the current hot topic, the Storage Cloud.
The idea of Storage cloud is to enable you to build your Storage Castles in the Cloud. The idea is that data will no longer be stored in your own data center but will be stored online elsewhere. You can say that this elsewhere is what constitutes the Cloud. This Cloud would be run by a company which will provide this service of storing the data and would enable you to access your data as fast as you would in your own data center. In essence, the data center operations of your company will now be outsourced to this ‘Cloud company’. Your enterprise will need less number of admins, less management and supposedly less headache. It is the duty of the ‘cloud company’ to deliver the storage to you as per the agreed upon SLAs. Of course, you need to pay for this service. And probably pay a lot.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. As they say, every complex problem has a simple solution which is wrong !! Not that the concept of Cloud Storage or Cloud Computing is wrong. It is just that there are lot of questions being asked. Like, how much will this model affect the networking bandwidth, will such a model be ok from the compliance point of view and so on. Google and Amazon are two companies who are generally quoted when referring to ‘The Cloud’ and both of them had outages recently. So the debate is on.
Why would the Cloud succeed when a similar concept like Software As A Service (SaaS) did not take off? (Many of you would remember about this buzzword during the early part of this century.) That’s the million dollar question. Or shall I say the multi-million dollar question. My guess is that for a couple of reasons Cloud may turn out to be different from SaaS. One, the data growth is tremendous and the complexity of managing data is also increasing. So many companies may want to outsource this activity to the experts rather than keeping a large IT team and buy more and more storage. Second, lot of the big guys have entered the fray. Google and Amazon have shown that cloud can work. Microsoft recently announced an offering called ‘Azure’ targeted at the cloud. EMC announced Atmos, short for Atmosphere, which it calls as Cloud Optimized Storage. (COS) (We will have to wait and see if the industry will pick up this term.) The combined marketing strength of these companies has already created a lot of buzz about Cloud, thereby increasing the prospects of its adoption by the industry.
You can read about EMC’s Atmos in this blog by Storagezilla, an EMC Blogger. As you can see, Atmos is designed for the cloud, information being stored as objects and policies which act on these objects. Policies are also used to drive geographical data placement. Initially, the reaction to this announcement from EMC’s competitors was that it was nothing new and not innovative enough. Slowly I see a perceptible change and people saying, “Oh yea, we too have it !!” This probably means that EMC is onto something big and saw the market before others did. As usual, time will tell us how successful this will be but it has surely created a buzz in the Storage circles. Companies like EMC will not invest in coming out with such a product if they didn’t believe Cloud would work.
What does all this mean to guys like us who thrive on services business? We need to learn atleast three things if we need to succeed in this area. One, about the Cloud itself. Second, about Server Virtualization, since the Cloud will pretty much be virtualized. Three, Storage virtualization. All three will be important in our business.
That’s it for my first technical post. Will continue with more updates about new releases and more action from the Storage land soon.