Cloud Storage Strategy: Insights, Observations, and Next Practices

Steve Lesem

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Cloud Computing: Article

Cloud Storage and The Innovator's Dilemma

Cloud Storage as a Disruptive Innovation

Too many think of cloud storage as just another or the next type of storage.  As usual with this view, it is associated with a view that the "next" storage type is bigger, faster and cheaper.  Because each generation of storage is always bigger, faster and cheaper.  As such, proponents of this view generally believe that access via traditional approaches, like WebDAV, NFS, cifs and others, is a critical capability.  Some may even argue that Web Services APIs are not the critical differentiation of Cloud Storage.  We disagree.

Cloud storage is a radical change.  It enables new application types.  The critical capability for cloud storage is a Web services API access, revealing the full promise of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).  Second, the services that are revealed by the API access go far beyond "put" and "get".  Anytime and anywhere access , tagging, sharing and collaboration, geo storage via a single namespace, and policy management of storage are some of the services that the new applications will expect to find in the storage clouds they chose.  Also, storing massive amounts of data in the cloud and having these services available to act on all the data is required.

Finally, traditional access serves a specific role, to get legacy applications connected to the cloud.  Why, so that their data can easily enter the cloud and immediately take advantage of Cloud Storage services.  That's the primary requirement for supporting traditional access.  So, if you are thinking your Cloud Storage choice is driven by traditional access requirements, you are viewing Cloud Storage via the lens of traditional storage types, and you may ultimately be disappointed with your decision.  If your selection of Cloud Storage is based on exposing your stored data to SOA and new services capability, with storage that is abstracted from processing, then you will have made the appropriate strategic decision.

So, the innovators dilemma, is the thought that traditional access to a big back store is the critical issue associated with Cloud Storage selection.  Second, that the evaluation point is traditional access, storage size and performance, at a new price point.  That is the traditional approach.  That is the next step, and traditional storage providers will push to make this the list of requirements for what you  should buy.  It is simply the next turn of the crank in the storage world, the next  evolutionary step in storage.  It is not Cloud Storage.  

That is the way storage was.  Cloud Storage is about SOA, Web services APIs and advanced services revealed by these APIs, delivered via an abstracted storage solution, over a network, at low cost, for a large amount of storage. As new applications arrive on the scene, powered by Cloud Storage, this will rapidly signal that something fundamental has happened.  A new storage type, driving new and creative applications, will allow for the creativity and skill of application developers to economically deliver the next generation of capabilities.  These new applications will require Cloud Storage, and the advanced services the storage cloud can deliver.  If all you want is bigger, faster, cheaper, you can solve your problem without a cloud, but you can solve this same problem with a cloud, and prepare yourself, and your data, for the future.

For more on this topic, visit Steve's Cloud Storage Strategy Blog >>

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Steve Lesem is President/CEO of Mezeo Software. Previously, He was Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the managed hosting provider VeriCenter. He has also served in leadership positions at SafeNet, BMC Software and IBM. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the primary author of the Cloud Storage Strategy Blog (www.cloudstoragestrategy.com), which frequently sees posts picked up by publications in the IT services and Web hosting spaces.