The incredible shrinking storage

Imthishan Giado discusses the recent death of EMC's cloud-based offering and the effect it might have on regional confidence in the technology.

Tags: Cloud computingEMC CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Imthishan Giado Published  July 7, 2010

For most of this year, it's seemed impossible to outrun the clouds circling above us.

That's probably some poetic licence on my part, particularly in the region where the sun beats down so fiercely that cloud cover is a rarely-seen phenomenon. In this instance, I'm referring to the growing movement around cloud computing and the chorus of "transformation, transformation" that its supporters seem to chant endlessly.

By now, you're all familiar with the basics - a million vendor seminars, presentations  and cloud computing events have ensured that the basic concept is effectively seared into the average CIO's consciousness. And sure, on paper it seems that adopting a cloud computing approach is a no-brainer from a network standpoint. Not only does it effectively ensure that you're making more appropriate use of your bandwidth, but it also provides what in theory should be a cast-iron guarantee in the form of a service-level agreement with the supporting vendor. Your own internal team can only do so much to protect internal assets and data whereas a vendor has global resources they can be trusted to call upon.

Or can they? The July 1 closure of EMC's Atmos cloud storage services may be exposing some of the cracks within the cloud computing façade. Essentially, the storage giant found itself competing with its service providers and customers, the latter offering their own Atmos-technology based services.

Atmos lived a fairly brief life, having only been launched in November 2008. In a statement the firm posted on its website, EMC claims that it will live on solely on a development environment for the technology - but what's more troubling is what happens to Atmos customers.

Following the cancellation of the service, Atmos customers will not be billed for past or future usage, but neither will they receive any support, regardless of whether it's contained in an SLA. In a statement on its website, EMC "strongly urges" that its customers migrate critical data to a partner offering Atmos-based services. No timeframe is offered.

That's not great news for customers - and frankly, if EMC, one of the leaders in worldwide storage, couldn't make a cloud-based offering fiscally viable, then it bodes poorly for rivals venturing into the same arena. More troubling is the speed with which support was abandoned for users - it's all well and good for SMBs and the like, but when you're talking about enterprises, the pace of disengagement is way, way too rapid.

And then there's the larger question of how successful cloud-based initiatives are going to be in the long run. I spoke with Margaret Adams from analysts IDC last month and she was of the opinion that the public cloud in particular is still suffering a lukewarm response from many regional IT establishments. The major concerns? You guessed it - communication costs and security. Those are even more pivotal when we add cloud-based storage to the equation.

Only a fool would argue that cloud-based services aren't eventually going to be the norm. It's just too expensive and too resource-greedy to expect all enterprises - except the very richest - to keep maintaining their investments, especially in our new age of austerity. But at the same time, the concerns firms have about moving into this space are real and need to be addressed. If they're not, confusion will turn to conservatism - and then you can only expect more Atmos-style stores in the future. 

2597 days ago
daren jones

Great article and I agree with it

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