Vanishing cloud

When EMC closed its Atmos service, many called into question the viability of cloud services. NME delves deeper into what went wrong.

Tags: Cloud StorageCloud computingEMC CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Vanishing cloud EMC will leverage Atmos Online as a developer environment , says Mohammed Amin.
By  Imthishan Giado Published  September 8, 2010 Network Middle East Logo

When EMC closed its Atmos service, many called into question the viability of cloud services. NME delves deeper into what went wrong.

June 29th was a normal day like any other. It wasn’t April 1st, or January 1st – days with any particular cultural relevance or historical significance. But for the world of IT, it’s a day that many might now choose to remember – because this was the first time that a crack showed in the impossibly-hyped world of cloud computing.

On June 29th, EMC wrote a post on the website for its Atmos cloud storage service, shuttering the offering. Henceforth, the post read, the site would only be available as a development environment while Atmos technology would be instead be offered through the variant offerings of its many service provider partners. Customers were informed that they would no longer have any form of support, and were “strongly encouraged” to migrate their critical data elsewhere.

To date, EMC has refused to elaborate on whether the service had any Middle East customers (see boxout) but the closure of Atmos has serious repercussions for cloud computing. To be clear, it’s not really about Atmos, but more about the technology as a whole. If EMC can suddenly pull the plug on services  and leave customers ostensibly the lurch, how secure is cloud computing as a means of storing your data?

Anthony Harrison, senior principal solutions specialist for storage and server management at Symantec, thinks that despite these early setbacks, cloud computing services will still gain traction – but burning early adopters is rarely likely to build goodwill in a cautious region like the Middle East.

“It’s like banking. Instead of keeping your money at home, people are comfortable handing their assets over to a third party as long as they know what’s happening to it. You get a monthly statement and so on. We still don’t have that level of maturity with cloud,” explains Harrison.

“Now those early adopters who were prepared to take a risk and move to something like Atmos – when they closed that service down – they have some operational challenges. The natural tendency of customers here is to not be in that early adopter stage. It’s more the sort of late majority,” he continues.

Steve Bailey, director of field operations for emerging markets thinks there’s there a deeper story to the Atmos closure.

“I’m talking to some of my colleagues at EMC that were particularly involved in the programme. It was not confidence in the technology, it was confidence in the security and the compliance,” he reveals.

“The idea with cloud is that it doesn’t matter where it lives, but actually, it is important when you get individual countries that have different compliance regulations. They were finding that it was too much red tape,” believes Bailey.

Mixed signals

Whatever the reason, it’s crystal clear that cloud services still have a lot of work if they’re going to gain the trust of local enterprises and their precious data. Future cloud service providers would be well advised to remember that few people here remember the success stories; but failure is rarely forgotten.

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