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Cloud Storage Decoded

The cloud is where your end users want to back up and share their digital content. They already use iTunes and Dropbox, and cloud services make sense for mobility initiatives and where non-mission-critical data is involved. And a cloud storage strategy should be simple to set up, right?

Well, no. Cloud storage used to mean simple disk drive replacements like SkyDrive and iDisk, but today there are dozens of product categories. Vendors are trying to meet a diverse set of consumer and business needs, and that's creating confusion. There's a big difference between using bulk cloud storage as an alternative to off-site tape or as an online data repository for distributed applications versus having a cloud service replace an entire backup infrastructure--software, hardware, tape library, and staff. And there's lingering IT resistance to cloud storage, as our InformationWeek 2012 State of Storage Survey revealed.

Despite these issues, more enterprises are giving cloud storage a whirl based on some powerful potential benefits, including no capital expense; good support for mobile workers; monthly, usage-based pricing; easily expandable capacity; and the ability to off-load hardware and software management. To help IT teams sort out the market, we invited 26 providers to take part in our InformationWeek Cloud Storage Buyer's Guide; 14 answered the call. Their responses provide insights on the state of IT cloud storage adoption and the features of most interest to businesses.

In our full report, we include full responses from ADrive, Backup Technology, BUMI, Carbonite, Code 42, Dakota Backup, Dropbox, Egnyte, EVault, EVS, Nirvanix, Symantec, YouSendIt, and Zetta. These vendors span multiple market segments, and we'll help buyers assess which services best fit their requirements.

Comfort Levels

A clear sign that cloud storage has moved past the early adopter phase is the fact that 25% of respondents to our State of Storage Survey have cloud as part of their project plans for the next year, up from 20% last year, with email and archiving the most common applications. Our latest InformationWeek Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Survey and Public Cloud Storage Survey show similar adoption levels, in the 25% range by year's end.

As with any online or hosted service, security, reliability, availability, and performance are the biggest concerns. A key sign that cloud providers have successfully marketed themselves as price leaders is that the percentage of respondents to our State of Storage poll citing cost as a major inhibitor to cloud use dropped nine points in the past year. In our Public Cloud Storage Survey, only 12% listed total cost of ownership as a reason not to adopt online storage services.

Still, IT managers should dust off their calculators and run the numbers out four or five years. The reality is, the price of cloud storage can easily eclipse the life cycle cost of an enterprise storage system. In a recent column, InformationWeek Reports director Art Wittmann compared a midrange Equal- Logic array with a comparable amount of Amazon S3 storage and found cloud rate drops aren't keeping up with declining hardware prices. That said, operating costs are a wild card, and the calculation is different depending on the service in question.

Storage In The Sky

Our full Cloud Storage Buyer's Guide is free with registration.

This report includes 17 pages of action-oriented analysis. Here's what you'll find:

  • Our exclusive questionnaire covering enterprise offerings from 14 vendors in 41 areas.
  • In-depth pricing analysis based on a 500-GB scenario

Get This And All Our Reports

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