When EMC talks about cloud computing, it isn't necessarily referring to the same kind of cloud the rest of IT is talking about. EMC's cloud is focused on the company's products that reside in your data centers, or in its cloud partner data centers like Peer 1 or Terremark, and integrated with VMware. That's EMC's cloud.
If you're an EMC customer (and you're likely a VMware customer), then your organization experiences some potential benefits of using a cloud storage provider that used Atmos for its infrastructure. Storage admins are a conservative bunch, and rather than adding a cloud storage gateway like Panzura or TwinStrata to their existing storage strategy, it might seem safer to stick with EMC's storage in the cloud provider's network. EMC certainly seems to be making an integrated storage system attractive.
The Atmos announcement is pretty thin on details--the enhancements won't be delivered until sometime in the second half of 2012. But EMC said the changes include 50% faster read-and-write performance, a new event manager for improved system visibility and monitoring, a new upgrade technology to reduce or eliminate downtime due to upgrades, as well as the ability to handle 100 petabytes of data across a distributed storage system.
"There will be hundreds of thousands of private clouds, and thousands of public clouds. The future of cloud is an and, not an or," declared Joe Tucci, EMC CEO, during his keynote. Tucci wants that cloud to be EMC-powered.
Granted, few non-cloud-provider companies are going to need an Atmos-sized storage system, but EMC is busy integrating its other storage systems into Atmos, developing migration tools to ease data movement from existing storage to Atmos and exposing APIs so developers can integrate with Atmos. EMC is seeing--or, at least it thinks it's seeing--a mass migration to public cloud computing and is doing what it can to retain customers.
The company is on to something. According to the InformationWeek April 2011 Public Cloud Storage Survey, of the 229 respondents at organizations using, planning to adopt or assessing public cloud storage services, the ability to move data to and from a cloud storage provider was the most important feature requirement for IT. No one wants to become beholden to cloud providers, and the fear--real or imagined--that a company will have to jump through hoops to get its data back from a storage provider looms large. Offering better integration between a customer's storage systems and a cloud storage provider's would allay those concerns. The icing on the cake would be the ability to manage cloud storage through the same storage management systems in use today.
Your biggest questions are: What are you planning on using the cloud for, and what are your storage requirements? If you're an EMC customer, selecting an Atmos cloud provider might make sense--if the provider can meet your other demands. However, if you plan on hosting applications and their associated data in the cloud, then whether it's based on Atmos may not matter, as long as you can extract the data out when you need to.