Public Cloud storage buyer's guide: FAQs

Your guide to choosing the best public Cloud storage provider for your small or medium business

Customer interest in public Cloud storage is increasing, driven by the promise of affordable, elastic storage for archiving, backup/recovery, and disaster purposes. To understand the types of offerings available and to assist buyers with purchasing decisions Computerworld has prepared a public Cloud storage buyers guide. It begins with some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

See: Public Cloud Storage: Shopping Checklist

What is Cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).

What is public Cloud storage?

It is a storage utility that is software-agnostic and provider-owned which employs a pay-per-use model and reservationless provisioning; it is often geographically separated from the servers that are using it. Providers of a simple Cloud storage service offer basic storage as a service with a minimum of value-added features. This market competes on cost. Some value-added storage service providers also offer functionality such as backup and restore, content management, or virtual file services.

Who provides these services?

Today public Cloud storage hardware infrastructures come in many flavours, ranging from large-scale, consumer grade services such as Amazon S3, that are delivered off custom-built, low-cost scale out modular storage architectures to more “enterprise focused” storage from Cloud service providers that is delivered off branded hardware from storage vendors. There are the simple Cloud storage providers, hosted services, and offerings from telecom providers and regional service providers. The value proposition is different for each of these providers.

What are the characteristics of a hosted offering?

A hosted provider offers enterprise grade public Cloud storage offerings. Customers also include Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and Platform as a Service (PaaS) developers. Infrastructure used by these providers include branded storage hardware, even high performance Fibre Channel SAN, leveraging existing data centre investments. IT research firm Gartner said the SLA’s are more customizable compared to a simple Cloud offering for consumers where remediation usually involves service credits only.

What are the characteristics of a telecom provider offering?

These public Cloud storage offerings are used by existing collaboration/telephony customers, particularly SMBs, that are looking for an IT plus unified communications service. These providers use branded storage hardware, in most cases Network Attached Storage (NAS)/unified storage. Gartner said the value proposition is strong network connectivity in and out of the Infrastructure as a Service offering (IaaS). They also offer collaboration and telephony applications and technologies.

Gartner said telecom providers are already experienced in providing enterprise-level SLAs for their unified communications solutions which will be transferred to Cloud storage SLA’s for enterprise customers.

What are the characteristics of a regional/global service provider offering?

These providers offer strong customer and technology experience implementing data centre solutions and services using branded storage hardware which leverage existing service provider relationships. Customers range from SMBs to the enterprise including Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners and developers that need IT as a service. Offerings also include vertical-specific tailored Cloud bundles that include applications and infrastructure. Gartner said technology partnerships with storage infrastructure companies allow for more granular SLAs. However, SMB customers may not need or want to pay a premium for enterprise-level SLAs.

Why should I look to hardware storage vendors for public Cloud storage?

Many of the major storage vendors are focused on being public Cloud IaaS providers. Gartner advises these solutions will have the maximum level of granularity in the SLA because the hardware vendor and service provider are the same entity. Established hardware vendors have the ability to provide an end to end private to public Cloud strategy including services that most enterprises seek today.

Who are the major hardware vendors offering Cloud storage?

Gartner identifies the top eight storage vendors in this space as Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, NetApp and Oracle.

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More about Amazon Web ServicesDellDell ComputerEMC CorporationetworkFibre ChannelFujitsuGartnerHewlett-Packard AustraliaHitachi AustraliaHitachi DataHitachi VantaraHitachi VantaraHPIBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaNASNetAppNetAppOracle

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