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Article Contributed By Jeff Treuhaft, Zetta CEO and Co-Founder
Cloud Storage Evolution - 2009 Trends Portend Strong 2010
2009 was a fast-moving year for the cloud space and cloud storage in particular. Since coming out of stealth mode early in 2009, we have had a growing conversation with customers, prospects, analysts and partners. Much of the industry was in "learn" mode for the first half of the year, trying to find ways to understand what cloud storage was and was not, and how to compare those definitions to the requirements and workloads inside their businesses.
End-user questions have changed significantly from either a blank stare or a "cloud what?" to more proactive, eager questions like "Can you do ..." or "Will I be able to ..." Businesses and IT staff are really beginning to lean forward and look for ways to make cloud storage work for them rather than dismissing it or ignoring it, especially inside more traditional businesses or enterprises in mainstay verticals like legal, energy, semiconductor, architecture and engineering, as well as media & entertainment. At the end of the summer, we began to see an aggressive shift from "engaging to understand" to a more active "engaging to use" set of actions.
While the broad cloud storage marketplace began to blossom in 2009, it was the intent and actions of enterprises across diverse verticals and of widely varying sizes that was perhaps the most important shift and a likely surprise to many storage industry veterans. Analysts' sentiments appear to be moving with the times as well. Moving beyond just trying to define the space, most analysts are now engaging deeply in targeting the "when" and "how" adoption events across a broad and growing range of use cases versus the "businesses don't want that anytime time soon, if ever" approach this time last year. In particular there was also a growing understanding of the difference between cloud storage offerings that were designed for web developers and enterprise cloud storage services that were designed and built specifically for the companies' IT staff responsible for storing and protecting enterprise data.
As we close out 2009 and prepare to ramp quickly into 2010, I wanted to share some key thoughts and predictions we have that will extend the enterprise cloud storage momentum of 2H 2009:
Enterprise data growth continues
In spite of the tough economic times of 2009, data growth in the enterprise remains unabated. Year-over-year data growth rates will remain consistent and have a chance of increasing slightly in 2010 driven by the overall economic rebound and ongoing compliance, archiving and disaster recovery requirements. We've seen customers in 2009 with 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent, and even 100 percent year-on-year data growth rates, and as these enterprises begin to expand again with the recovering economy, their data expansion will likely see some acceleration as well.
Enterprise adoption of cloud storage for primary data will accelerate
We continue to see strong demand for our services in the marketplace, but other external validation has also begun to appear. At the recent Gartner Data Center Conference, audience polls during the sessions uncovered that 45 percent of the attendees either had or were planning to deploy some form of cloud storage within the next two years. That is almost half! Another survey of more than 400 IT professionals had 49 percent claiming they already were or would be implementing cloud storage. Not only do we expect that enterprise customers will adopt cloud storage in increasing numbers, but that each customer will rapidly expand once they begin.
Private cloud storage adoption will be limited
The business and management benefits of an on-demand service infrastructure cannot be fully met if users still need to buy, configure, manage and support their own hardware and software. The complexity and costs of crafting and day-to-day management of a private cloud ultimately outweigh the benefits for all, but a very small number of very large organizations. Most members of the IT staff continue to be undermanned and worry about the risks of managing and protecting the data for their businesses. Dramatically increasing the amount of physical infrastructure components that staff needs to worry about at any given moment will not only increase their daily workloads dramatically, but will add unnecessary risk to IT managers' responsibilities around data protection.
Use cases for cloud storage will expand inside enterprises
First-generation cloud storage offerings were developed to address the needs of web developers and content distribution. As the connected life of the US consumer has continued to expand, web developers have been able to create a variety of services and products that take advantage of the unique benefits of a web object store for those types of applications. But inside enterprise and IT shops, data storage and data management represent a thick set of requirements, objectives and workloads that require different technologies in order to satisfy users' needs.
For more than a decade, business IT has come to rely on RAID protection, features like Snapshots, Replication, standard File Access Protocols like CIFS/Samba, NFS, Rsync and many other similar technologies. It is only when the collective benefit of all these features can be combined that an IT manager or business has confidence to select and deploy something new. Once users can benefit from the totality of these features, the primary file server, broader disaster recovery, compliance and business continuity uses can be more than viable.
Broad adoption will become inevitable as businesses begin to understand not just the economic benefits of cloud storage, but the ways the right service platforms can reduce the risk of data loss, increase the availability and utility of the data itself, and reduce the overall complexity that most data storage infrastructures have become mired in today.
About the Author
Jeff Treuhaft, Zetta CEO and Co-Founder