ORLANDO — Cloud computing is no fad, so it’s time to make it enterprise-ready. That’s EMC Corp.’s (NYSE:EMC) goal with its launch on Monday of EMC Atmos onLine, a new Internet-delivered cloud storage service built on Atmos, EMC’s policy-based information management system. But while analysts agree the cloud is here to stay, they say the jury is still out on whether service providers can monetize on it or not.
Atmos onLine provides what EMC is calling Cloud Optimized Storage (COS) capabilities that can scale effectively, coupled with security and management tools. While you don’t need Atmos to use Atmos onLine, EMC is offering federation to allow clients to set policies that determine the automatic federation of information between what it’s calling your “private cloud” and your on-premises data centre based on its sensitivity.
In a media briefing at the storage vendor’s annual EMC World user conference, Mike Feinberg, EMC’s senior vice-president, cloud infrastructure group, said the ever-increasing amounts of rich data content being generated require new storage strategies. He doesn’t see any business moving its storage infrastructure to the cloud entirely. Rather, it’s always going to be a hybrid model. But the cloud will play an increasing role to address storage challenges efficiently and with flexibility.
“We’ve got to embrace a hybrid model. You don’t have to have Atmos in the data centre,” said Feinberg. “But we’re trying to enable enterprise IT shops to have the flexibility to manage data over the Internet and behind the firewall in the same way.”
The vendor sees the storage offering being provisioned as a managed service offering, which has the benefits of being an operating expenditure for IT shops rather than a capital expenditure. But EMC president and CEO Joe Tucci said it’s not his company’s vision to be a service provider. Rather, it seeks to develop the reference architecture for the service provider channel to enable it to deploy the offering for its customers.
The telcos are one likely service provider channel and already onboard is AT&T, which yesterday launched its Synaptic Storage as a Service solution targeting the enterprise market and based on EMC technology. “We’ve seen a real demand for enterprise-grade cloud services. We view the market as very much untapped. They’re aware of it but they’ve treated it with a certain degree of trepidation,” said Steve Caniano, vice-president of hosting and application services with AT&T. “We’re really excited to have a partner now with a solution to tackle that.
Brian Babineau, senior analyst of storage and information management systems with the Enterprise Strategy Group, said cloud computing is definitely no fad, and organizations are now giving it the “smell-test” to see where it can fit within their infrastructures. But while the cloud can make sense when you need to provision resources on a temporary basis, he said the jury is still out when it comes to critical data.
“If EMC is going to be successful their service providers need to be able to make money,” said Babineau. “We think they’re going to make money, but it’s not a proven situation. Right now we just don’t have enough data points.”
EMC is going shopping
During his EMC World keynote, Tucci indicated that as part of its strategy to emerge from the economic downturn as a stronger competitor, EMC would be looking to utilize its US$9.8 billion in cash on hand to grow its market share through strategic mergers and acquisitions. It was a theme he expanded on later speaking with the media.
“While I won’t say what kind of areas we’re thinking about or what companies obviously, I will say we’re much more inclined to make acquisitions in areas where we’re already strong,” said Tucci. “In and around virtualization, in the whole storage (and) information management space, rather than go to a completely new space.”
Also delivering a keynote was Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware Inc., a company in which EMC remains the majority and controlling shareholder. Maritz declared VMware is no longer in the individual hypervisor business, but rather is in the business of “stitching together a new layer of software” that allows businesses to use their computing resources in a more flexible and efficient way.
Maritz also said VMware technology will soon enable IT departments to act as internal managed service providers, giving IT statistics on IT resource usage at a granular level that can enable departmental self-provisioning through an automated portal and chargeback based on resources utilized. “You’ll be able to see on a minute-by-minute basis who is really generating load on your data centre,” said Maritz.