Storage Informer
Storage Informer

EMC Takes Atmos Storage OnLine

by on May.18, 2009, under Storage

EMC Takes Atmos Storage OnLine

EMC logo EMC Takes Atmos Storage OnLine

Perhaps the first big announcement to come out of EMC World is the twin combination of the new Atmos OnLine service, as well as AT&T’s new Synaptic Storage as a Service based on Atmos. While the new services and capabilities…

Perhaps the first big announcement to come out of EMC World is the twin combination of the new Atmos OnLine service, as well as AT&T’s new Synaptic Storage as a Service based on Atmos.

While the new services and capabilities are interesting in their own right, I think they’re emblematic of certain trends we’ll inevitably see more of in the future.

And that’s worth discussing …

Storage As A Service?

The problem with most storage discussions is that while storage components can certainly be described as a “commodity”, most people don’t think of their information as a “commodity”.

Those of you who have ever experienced a massive data loss or privacy breach can certainly empathize with this perspective.

Any successful storage as a service offering has to meet two criteria; (1) it has to be cheaper or easier than doing it yourself, and (2) it has to offer certain well-defined and pre-agreed standards for performance, availability and security.

Unless you can do #1, you don’t have a market. 

And unless you are pretty clear about #2, no one will trust you with their information.

The Service Provider Advantage?

Everyone points to Amazon’s S3 as the leading example of storage as a service.  I’d agree that they do a decent job of #1 above, but as far as #2 — well, let’s just say that not everyone is convinced yet.

Now, consider for a moment the economic advantages that a service provider — such as AT&T — brings to the table.

They have plenty of data center space in all sorts of useful locations.  Those facilities are already built and already paid for.

They have big pipes — wired and wireless — that can deliver information when and where it’s needed.  Those pipes are largely already built and paid for.

They already have business relationships and trusted provider status with enterprises large and small.  Those relationships are already built and paid for.

And they have sophisticated infrastructure and process in place to manage things like service delivery, security, provisioning, billing and so on.  Most of that is already in place.

So, when people ask me about newer-style storage cloud providers (Amazon as an example) being viable in the marketplace long term, I just have to point to all the inherent structural advantages favoring the telcos and service providers in this market.

The View From IT

For many years, IT organizations have handed over parts of their operations to providers who could do a better job at a lower price than the do-it-yourself option.

I remember many years ago when telcos and service providers were convincing enterprise IT shops that they could do a better job managing the enterprise backbone than IT could do themselves.

It took a while to make that case, but today it’s just accepted as a matter-of-fact that enterprise backbone management is something that you contract for, and not usually something you try and do yourself.

As a result, the enterprise backbone today is usually cost-effective, well managed and secured.

To me, it makes all the sense in the world that many IT organizations would look at part of their information portfolio, and start to think about it more as an extended network service, rather than a pile of disk drives sitting in the data center.

Exactly what information is and is not a candidate for this kind of service will vary by industry, application and other factors — but I’ve been in plenty of customer discussions where this sort of service would solve a thorny problem for at least part of the IT landscape.

Put differently — I think these new services will find willing customers before too long.

What Will The Future Bring?

Most likely, this market will evolve along the lines of other service provider offerings.  We’ll undoubtedly see more players getting into the act. 

And, once there’s more than one choice, the inevitable specialization and differentiation will begin.

Some will compete on price.  Some will compete on service level.  Some will compete on security or compliance.  Some will look to value-added services on top of the basic information utility.

The net result in a few years should be dozens and dozens of new choices for putting certain kinds of corporate information in the cloud.

And, if they’re all powered by Atmos, it wouldn’t upset me too much :-)

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