The Exponential Growth of the Cloud

Unlike many I don't think that we will see a downturn or consolidation in cloud related services for years and in fact I expect that the cloud will expand exponentially over that timeframe.

George Crump

July 15, 2009

3 Min Read
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The attention that cloud storage and cloud computing gets confuses many in our industry, after all we have been here before, storage as a service, utility storage, software as a service etc... What many lose as they try to turn down the hype is that cloud computing and cloud storage unleash innovation in the developer community. Unlike many I don't think that we will see a downturn or consolidation in cloud related services for years and in fact I expect that the cloud will expand exponentially over that timeframe.

Broadly there are two types of companies involved in cloud computing and cloud storage; there are the providers of the customer facing service and there are the providers of the infrastructure that these services run on. In the early days of cloud related service many companies provide both the infrastructure and a service.

When there is a shakeout in the cloud market it will be on the infrastructure side of the equation, something I will cover in my next entry. What I call the provider side is the side of the cloud that you use and interact with, it is the customer facing interface and it is the provider side where we will experience the exponential growth of the cloud.

Clearly there will be turnover in the provider side, they will come and go, but when one company disappears five more will take its place. What the cloud brings to this type of company is the ability to leverage an infrastructure. They can in essence provide what used to be a hardware and software solution to potential customers and not have to actually provide the most expensive part; the hardware, they can leverage a cloud infrastructure provider for that.

This part of the cloud will be brimming with storage solutions ranging from collaboration to backup to archive and yes, eventually to secondary and primary storage. Because of the Cloud the cost of entry is lower than ever. All you need is a smart developer that can identify and address a market need and have them go to work. By comparison to deliver a turnkey solution today requires an additional hardware investment both upfront and ongoing, to a large extent the cloud removes this.Even when on-premise hardware is required, the type and complexity of this hardware can be greatly simplified and remote management is essentially built in. As we discussed in our articles "Hybrid Cloud Backup" and "The Evolution of Data Archiving" both cloud backup and cloud archive may be able to benefit by a local appliance that sends data to the cloud. Although this has a hardware investment on the part of the developer it is no more complicated that installing a cable modem and nothing compared to deploying a whole hardware infrastructure.

As I stated earlier, today many of the companies that provide the customer facing front-end also make and maintain their own infrastructure. I think this will change as the infrastructure players, Amazon, Nivanix, Rackspace and others mature. From a developer standpoint it makes more sense from a startup cost, time to market, and long term support perspectives to leverage someone else as the back end. Some developers may even offer the ability to mirror your data set between two different providers for additional redundancy.

The infrastructure space is the section of the market that the pressure will be on. One where I expect a fair amount of growth in the number of companies in the space and then a significant shakeout or consolidation as we reach critical mass. Something we will discuss in our next entry.

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