The future of storage is cloudy

October 9, 2009 -- Cloud computing and cloud storage are here to stay. The number of vendors with cloud offerings continues to multiply and I don't envy the end user trying to evaluate vendors and services.

Just this week we have seen a big push in the cloud storage market. IBM officially announced its cloud storage intentions with a declaration that it will enter the storage cloud space with the launch of the IBM Smart Business Storage solution, IBM Information Archive and new consulting services.

The IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud is a private cloud based on low-cost components with support for multiple petabytes of capacity, billions of files and scale-out performance. Big Blue's storage cloud is based on technologies including the IBM General Parallel File System have and storage and server technologies like XIV and BladeCenter.

Earlier in the week, Symantec released Veritas FileStore, a new clustered file system aimed at enterprise customers looking to build public or private storage clouds. FileStore is comprised of software-based appliances that run on commodity x86 server nodes and talk to clients using CIFS, FTP, HTTP or NFS. On the back-end, the FileStore nodes aggregate existing Fibre Channel and iSCSI SANs and JBODs as a shared storage pool. A FileStore system can scale up to 16 nodes and 2PB of total capacity.

Seagate also chimed in. Seagate's storage software arm, i365, announced a cloud storage-based replication service for medium-sized businesses as part of its push into the cloud storage space.

Terry Cunningham, i365's senior vice president and general manager, told me i365 is changing the way it approaches the cloud.

"Our offerings have been rip-and-replace in the past, and that is an unreasonable request for customers. Now we're agnostic and work with legacy backup packages," he said. "We can now get to the cloud without gutting the infrastructure."

All of these storage clouds are here or on the horizon and there are a few questions customers should be asking themselves as they try to pick a vendor. What types of metadata is required to ensure portability, compliance and security in the cloud? Can data be provided back to users in a format that can be ingested by a new service provider?

The storage industry is aware of some of the cloud confusion out there. It's a concern from both a perception and a technical standpoint.

"Cloud storage is not a fad like the one we may have witnessed with xSPs and storage service providers back in the year 2000 timeframe," says SNIA chairman Wayne Adams. "Cloud storage is here to stay and we need to develop common terminology and standards for building cloud infrastructures."

Stay tuned for more information about what the SNIA has in store for the cloud in our Cloud Storage topic center. The cloud news is sure to be fast and furious from next week's Storage Networking World conference.

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posted by: Kevin Komiega

Kevin Komiega, Senior Editor
by Kevin Komiega
Senior Editor

Kevin Komiega has been the Senior Editor of InfoStor since 2005. He was previously a senior news writer with SearchStorage.com and held a position as a public relations account executive with Porter Novelli, Boston. Kevin also spent four years running tape backup operations at the University of Rhode Island's Academic Computer Center. He can be contacted at kkomiega@quinstreet.com.

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