As Amazon struggles today with the first big outage to afflict its popular S3 data-storage service, it looks like it will also soon be facing a big new competitor. The storage giant EMC looks like it’s gearing up for a major move into “the cloud.” Like other traditional IT component suppliers, EMC sees cloud computing as both threat and opportunity. On the one hand, it could put a large dent into individual businesses’ demand for on-site storage systems, EMC’s bread and butter. On the other hand, somebody has to build and run the storage cloud, and EMC has the scale and expertise to be a big player in this new business.
EMC has already rolled out Mozy, a backup service for individuals and small businesses, but that represents only the tip of its ambitions. Indications are that the company wants to build a vast online storage system able to fill the needs of the largest companies. Yesterday, a top SAP executive, Doug Merritt, told Reuters that his company was partnering with EMC to provide its complex business applications over the Net. That would be quite a deal for both companies. Apparently, though, Merritt jumped the gun with his announcement. An EMC spokesman, quoted today by the Boston Globe, says that reports of the partnership are “only speculation.” But whether or not the SAP linkup comes to pass, EMC’s move into the cloud is, as Robert Buderi writes today, a matter of when, not if.
The clearest indication of what EMC has in mind came in a post by EMC blogger Chuck Hollis last month. He wrote:
Some people seem to associate this webby, cloudy stuff with some of the more popular offerings from folks such as Amazon and Google, e.g. web 2.0 storage is simply cost-effective storage over the web. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not particularly interesting …
Cloud storage is massive. Very massive. We’re routinely encountering new requirements where terms like “gigabyte” and “terabyte” are not useful, the discussion starts at “many petabytes” and goes up from there.
We tend to think of all this stuff sitting in a data center somewhere, but for this model, it just doesn’t work. Nobody can afford a single data center that’s large enough to put all this stuff into (no, not even Google). More importantly, no one can afford the network pipes that’ll be needed in a single place to feed everything into, or out of.
No, what you’ll need is the ability to place these devices in locations around the world, and have them operate as a single entity: a single global name space, and – more importantly – the ability to ingest content from anywhere, and move content to popular places depending on traffic and interest …
The environment must be self-tuning, and automatically react to surges in demand. It must be self-healing and self-correcting at a massive scale – like the internet, no single scenario of failures can bring it down.
With the big IT vendors moving in, the cloud is about to get mighty crowded.