The tsunami of data being generated by edge devices, IoT and digitization is driving new storage consumption on premises and in the cloud. Enterprise storage vendors hope to address the massive data growth with flexible cloud services that allow users to grow capacity as needed.
One such example is Seagate Technology's Lyve Cloud, a storage as a service (STaaS) offering it launched earlier this year. The service targets organizations looking to expand their unstructured object storage capacity on premises and with compatible clouds while maintaining their preferred data management software and other services.
According to Seagate, the new service won't compete directly with the major public or private cloud offerings. Instead, Lyve Cloud provides storage within multi-cloud environments, on-premises backup and edge device storage.
Currently, the service offers S3-compatible object storage-as-a-service equipped with Seagate's high-capacity hard drives and hosted in Equinix data centers.
Lyve doesn't provide many of the additional features offered by competing clouds or storage services, such as compute or AI features. Instead, Seagate seeks to strictly handle data storage and some migration needs, such as moving to and from tape backups. Metadata management, offered by Strongbox Data or Komprise, isn't the focus for Seagate Lyve, either. To offset the loss of these features, Seagate doesn't charge ingress or egress fees, just for the total amount of storage used.
With that approach, enterprises have the flexibility to scale their Lyve storage to their needs throughout their service contract and consider what clouds their data makes sense in, according to Jeff Fochtman, senior vice president of business and marketing at Seagate.
"We think storage, compute and networking should be separated," Fochtman said. "It gives you the most flexibility on your technology bill going forward. Lyve is designed to be storage only. We expect you have an existing software infrastructure and our hardware can plug right into that."
Seagate for Lyve Cloud partners include Equinix, which handles the services' data centers, Commvault, Veritas, Rubrik and Cohesity.
"We become a parking lot, if you will, for data," Fochtman said. "There's sticker shock on the cloud bills. We don't want that sticker shock. We want that predictable pricing."
Seagate's bid to become the storage focal point in a hybrid environment, Fochtman said, could catch on as on-premises or slightly warmer-tier data needs move from the gigabytes into the petabyte and exabyte capacities.
"We wanted to get in front of what was coming next," Fochtman said. "We are no longer just at solving data capacity, i.e. data growth, we're out to help to solve the data complexity problem with the rise of the edge."
Seagate and Western Digital Corp., Seagate's primary market competitor, have both made tentative steps in the past towards object storage. WDC, however, ultimately threw in the towel on enterprise object storage last year by selling its technology to Quantum, said Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting.
He didn't see the "data tsunami" as a new problem for the storage industry to tackle, but rather a market opening for Seagate. In March, IDC reported 64.2 zettabytes of data was created or replicated in 2020. The analyst firm predicts global data creation and replication will experience a compound annual growth rate of 23% over the 2020-2025 forecast period.
"The data tsunami has been an issue for what feels like a decade," Lucchesi said. "Seagate and WDC benefit from any growth in data. [Any way] to make it easier to store and use data should benefit the disk drive business in the long run."
Seagate is a hard drive business first and foremost, but many of its drives continue to reach sizes unlikely to be fully utilized by most organizations, except for massive data generators. This market, Lucchesi said, will be tied to data growth.
Andrew SmithResearch manager, IDC
Purchasing storage as an operational expenditure rather than just purchasing additional hardware helps organizations avoid overspending or underusing their hardware, said Andrew Smith, research manager at IDC.
"In the short term, Opex-based solutions give enterprises the confidence they can scale as needed, without having to commit to a significant upfront payment," Smith said. "The challenge for them is managing and forecasting usage over time, as well as storing the data in a way that is manageable and secure. … Just more drives or just more capacity is not always the best solution."
While additional storage may be useful for organizations immediately, Seagate's future success with Lyve Cloud will likely require the company to expand into more typical service offerings with data management and other in-demand features, according to Smith.
"The challenge will be for Seagate to continue growing its portfolio of software and services under the Lyve umbrella, as this is all part of delivering a comprehensive SaaS experience that enterprises expect -- with a range of data services at their disposal," Smith said.
STaaS isn't likely to be the only answer to data growth but it could be another piece of an organization's storage plan.
"Right now, procuring storage capacity on an Opex basis seems preferable to many enterprises, rather than being stuck with additional hardware on their books that may remain underutilized," Smith said.