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Cloudy future for storage? (Editorial)

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Cloudy future for storage?


Paul Maritz is a man with his head in the clouds these days, and that's a good thing. He recently joined EMC as president and general manager of the new Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division when EMC purchased his company, Pi Corp. While Maritz's title might suggest he's some kind of meteorologist, as Bob Dylan once sang, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." And today, when it comes to new approaches to storage management, the wind is definitely blowing toward the cloud.

The cloud is, of course, the Internet. The name derives from all of those PowerPoint presentation diagrams that depicted the Internet as a fluffy cloud. I don't know if that metaphor was popularized because the Internet hovers above us all, or because it's a big thing nobody truly understands. In any event, the cloud is "in" right now, and the phrase "cloud storage" is wafting its way into more marketing spiels.

Cloud talk may be new, but the idea has been around for a while. Back in the salad days of the Web, application service providers (ASPs) rolled out applications and services that didn't require locally installed hardware or software, and could be accessed via the Internet. The dot.com bust drove a stake through the hearts of most ASPs, but some--like Salesforce.com--managed to survive. The recent storm of cloud offerings

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leverages a model that can significantly reduce implementation, administration and ongoing maintenance costs.

The cloud storage cosmos--also referred to as Software as a Service or Storage as a Service (SaaS)--is getting crowded after some significant storage players ponied up big bucks to snare online storage service providers. Much of the activity has been around online backup, with EMC scarfing up Mozy, Seagate buying EVault and Iron Mountain corralling LiveVault, among other deals.

Symantec has rolled out its own SaaS product, the Symantec Protection Network (SPN). SPN's spin on SaaS is two pronged, with an online backup service and a self-managed backup option that offers online storage for users of Backup Exec 12. Nirvanix, which emerged last year with its Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network (SDN), is making its mark on the cloud with FreeDrive, ElasticDrive and others offering services based on the platform.

This was first published in April 2008

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