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Hybrid cloud market capitalizes on backup

Cloud storage adoption has continued to increase year over year, but TechTarget surveys suggest the amount of data being stored in the cloud typically doesn't creep higher than 10% for any one company.

Whether the reluctance stems from security, latency or other concerns, it could be one reason the hybrid cloud market is growing -- it gives users the opportunity to get the best of both on-premises and cloud storage worlds.

"In the next six months, we're going to see cloud as a storage tier baked into all our favorite traditional arrays. So hybrid cloud is really taking off," said Taneja Group senior analyst Mike Matchett in a recent TechTalk focusing on the state of the hybrid cloud market today.

According to Matchett, today's hybrid cloud market is primarily attractive to businesses because it allows them to store infrequently accessed backup or archival data in the cloud, while critical data is stored on-premises. And it's getting easier to do. Today we're seeing a growing number of array vendors capitalizing on the hybrid cloud storage tier use case by acquiring cloud startups and providing the capability to automatically offload cold data to cloud storage. Matchett sited EMC's acquisition of TwinStrata and NetApp's acquisition of Riverbed as two recent examples.

"We're seeing people now experiment with using both private and public clouds on either end. And I think it's inevitable that people will start to marry those two together," Matchett said.

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Transcript - Hybrid cloud market capitalizes on backup

What would you say are the most common use cases for hybrid clouds today?

Mike Matchett: Hybrid clouds tend to get used mostly today for cold storage or backup and disaster recovery purposes. Certainly, that situation is evolving. More people are using cloud storage and hybrid cloud situations for more and more use cases. Maybe today [users are] experimenting with partition data for big data analytics, or looking at some applications that were born in the cloud and figuring out how to make them work with data that's on site. But by and large, today, they're using it as a cold storage tier.

How do you think the emergence of more cloud gateway technologies has affected the hybrid cloud market? Do you think that it might be pushing more enterprises to adopt hybrid cloud over public or private?

Matchett: I think the hybrid cloud market is definitely picking up steam. We're seeing people now experiment with using both private and public clouds on either end. And I think it's inevitable that people will start to marry those two together. I don't think it's really fair to say that someone will want to choose a private cloud or a public cloud altogether first. Rather, I think they're going to have a set of goals that they're going to try to accomplish. And they'll look at doing that with the best combination that they can.

Now, we have some evidence that the market is evolving, just in the last couple weeks. NetApp has acquired the Riverbed SteelStore, former Whitewater Gateway Products. And EMC has acquired TwinStrata recently, and now Maginatics just last [October]. So we're starting to see the traditional vendors bring that cloud use case into traditional array land. And in the next six months, we're going to see cloud as a storage tier baked into all our favorite traditional arrays. So hybrid cloud's really taking off.

Hybrid clouds are often seen as the first step into fully moving into the cloud. Do you think that's still true today, or are enterprises sticking with the hybrid model once they adopt it?

Matchett: Right. As we were just saying, I think enterprises approach it more from a business perspective. What do I need to get out of my IT infrastructure? And they're looking at this public cloud model as an ideal model for some of their business users who just want to bring a credit card and swipe it. But they know because of reasons such as data security, data gravity and other issues that they can't go to a fully public model. Plus, cost builds up in a public model. So they might build, as a first step, a private cloud to get their feet wet in cloud architectures. But to really get the best of both worlds, at some point, they're going to need to integrate across and be able to go and move a workload or partition a workload across both a private and public cloud hosting, and really do that brokerage and optimize that.

Aside from the cost savings that you just mentioned, what are some reasons people would choose a hybrid cloud, and what are some benefits of it over public or private?

Matchett: Yes, so when you just look at a public cloud, you're stuck with the services that that public cloud offers. And while they're standardized, they're fairly homogenous and specific. You can't really customize the services at a low level for what you need. Plus the cost tends to creep up over time. Although, it's very convenient. You get a lot of agility out of it and elasticity, but again, you're stuck with those standardized API's. And often, what you get out of one cloud, you can't really get into another cloud today. So there's an inter-cloud problem as well. They're not all built the same.

As for a private cloud, some of the benefits that you can get out of a private cloud might be that you own the infrastructure. It's a fixed cost. You can control and customize the assets, but you don't get that elasticity of price. It doesn't convert the cost to OPEX, like a lot of people really want. So really, what you want to do with your applications take advantage of the best of both and try to build a hybrid scenario.

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