Let’s Think Practically: Cloud Storage Change will be both Disruptive and Evolutionary

The current issue of InfoStor contains an article by Jeff Boles, “Use Cases Make the Case for Cloud Storage,” in which he provides some key examples illustrating why we at CloudStorageStrategy.com believe certain key principles will shape the future of the cloud storage industry and cloud computing more generally.

Specifically, the article highlights three things:

  • Cloud storage will bring disruptive change to several large market niches.
  • Cloud storage adoption will be evolutionary, starting with archival and long-term storage.
  • Relationships, account management and custom solutions are still important in selling solutions to the business market.

Disruptive change. As we have discussed before, cloud storage brings game-changing pricing and service capabilities that will disrupt entire industries. Specific industries such as disaster recovery, data protection and recovery, records management, and other data services will be changed, as pricing and service delivery models are completely overturned. For the most part, customers and service providers will find the new pricing models liberating, as services that have been affordable to a few businesses will become relevant to a much larger segment of the market. Jeff provides examples of new services being launched by Iron Mountain. Whether or not Iron Mountain is successful in navigating the disruption that cloud storage will surely bring to its records management, data protection and recovery business, these moves by Iron Mountain are at least reflective of a corporate recognition that disruptive change is underway. Many new entrants are pursuing this market with innovative solutions and aggressive business models. The future of this market segment, and many other segments such as disaster recovery, will be interesting to observe.


Evolutionary change. Cloud storage will change the storage market, but it will change different segments of the storage market on different timescales. Jeff has it right in saying that file archiving and other forms of long-term storage will be the use cases that drive adoption of cloud storage solutions in the early going. At the other end of the spectrum, database storage will be among the last types of storage to move to the cloud. In setting expectations about the adoption rate of cloud storage, we need to keep in mind that use cases will drive the adoption rate. Legacy storage systems will remain in use, and will continue to be upgraded, for a long time for many use cases. Success for cloud storage solutions isn’t so much about displacing all legacy storage systems; it is more about improving price/performance of certain existing use cases, as well as creating new use cases.

Solution selling. The “cloud” moniker tends to be associated with Web-based and credit card sales models. “Cloud” is independent of sales model. In the case of storage, cloud storage implies Web services API access and Web-scale multi-tenant architecture. While there are consumer-oriented solutions for cloud storage, the commercial market will embrace cloud storage. As Jeff points out, business customers demand security, portability, performance, availability and access – all within the context of their business applications and their IT governance policies. One-size-fits-all cloud storage solutions, such as Amazon S3, will certainly continue to have their place in the world, but cloud storage proponents need to recognize that an equally large market opportunity exists for those who can integrate high-impact business solutions on a cloud storage platform. Ultimately we will see a large number of mature service provider solutions that are customizable for mid-tier and enterprise customers, and configurable for the small business market. These service providers will spearhead the disruptive and evolutionary change as they drive adoption of cloud storage solutions.

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