The reason that cloud storage and cloud compute are confusing terms is that they are broad in what they could mean. In the last two entries I have tried to define some of the sub categories that cloud storage contains. In this last installment we will discuss the arms merchants, the companies that will supply the infrastructure's next wave of providers.
A quick side note, providers may also be an IT department, especially in larger organizations. As we discussed in our article Become The Cloud, internal or private clouds may be an ideal way for larger IT environments to meet the demands of ever growing unstructured data.
The arms merchants will supply cloud storage hardware, cloud storage software that you put on your own servers or they may supply a complete hardware/software combination. As there is with traditional storage there will be plenty to choose from in this space. There will be repackaged storage solutions that have the word 'cloud' put on them and there will be customized solutions specifically for the cloud. There will be companies focused on performance and others focused on archive and retention. The one thing it seems that all arms providers are clear on is the need for scale.
As I wrote in a prior entry, the performance focused arms merchants like those offered by 3PAR, Isilon and Data Direct Networks will often be used that are providing some form of software as a service. While the bandwidth of the internet is not going to need the performance of one of these systems, the aggregated demands of thousands and potentially millions of users will. Clearly standard high performance storage systems will try to compete, but the ability to maintain performance as you scale without replacing the storage controllers or NAS heads is going to be a critical capability.
The bigger market, at least in terms of number of companies, may be arming the providers that are going to focus more on cloud as a secondary storage area. When using the cloud as a secondary storage offering the provider will need to assemble three parts; storage, software to manage the multi-tenant use of that storage and in some cases the servers to run that storage. Hardware companies like Cleversafe, EMC Atmos and Permabit are staking ground in this market as are software solutions like those from Bycast, Mezeo and Parascale.