In 2010 cloud storage will continue to grow in use but like my other 2010 entries, next year won't be the "year" of cloud storage. As we discussed in our article "What is Cloud Storage", people and organizations will use cloud storage differently. What is important is that they will use the architectures they are developing from cloud storage requirements more so than they had previously.Beyond the success of backup, today most cloud storage use cases are by individuals or by factions within organizations looking to get a specific data storage requirement accomplished. Surprisingly it is seldom about price. More often the requirement is being driven by a need to collaborate or to distribute data across geographies. There is also a realization that outsourcing data retention to an outside storage facility may be the most viable solution for that organization. In 2010 these four drivers: backup, collaboration, distribution and archive, will continue to drive interest and utilization of the cloud.
This is going to increase the requirement that independent software developers start to integrate cloud functionality into their software offerings and mean that cloud providers will need to provide hooks into their storage hardware platforms that allow that integration. A document management application for example, that had the ability to archive and retrieve data directly to cloud storage, would greatly simplify the archival process and allow users to more seamlessly remove old data from expensive storage. In addition the document management application would already have all the meta data about that file and through the use of the API could set security, retention and tagging parameters.
The provider community is going to continue to grow exponentially in 2010. While there may be a few more turnkey providers that create their own customer storage solution, most growth in this area will come as the result of the wide availability of quality cloud storage solutions. Organizations with facilities and bandwidth have been wanting to get into the cloud storage market and now they have a wide range of options available to them to build a platform to make that move.
In 2010 most of the activity is going to be around the arms dealers, the storage companies that provide the hardware or software to build these platforms. Cloud storage has been a fertile breeding ground for startups looking to carve out a niche for themselves in the market. Cloud storage has also not gone unnoticed by the veterans of the storage industry. As you compare these platforms there seems to be basic agreement that the architecture of cloud storage should be grid or cluster based, but beyond that all bets are off.
In 2010 I think we will see a vetting of the arms dealer section of the cloud storage marketplace. We will see if NASs can be extended to useful application in cloud storage and if cloud storage will see useful application as a NAS device. There will also be a clear delineation in the storage needs of the cloud compute providers and a cloud storage provider; the subject of our next entry.
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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.