Special Report

Understanding cloud storage technology: Definitions, deployment and implementation challenges

What is cloud storage technology? Despite the hype surrounding this new approach to computing last year, the answer to that question remains difficult to pin down. Industry experts and research organizations see dual paradigms evolving, one internal to the enterprise data center and the other external, with storage service providers.

This four-part exploration of this evolving market covers technical definitions of cloud storage, how early adopters are deploying it, and the next phase of innovation and adoption.

Evolving cloud storage market has users weighing their enterprise data storage options
Despite all of the hype surrounding cloud storage these days, it remains a difficult concept to fully explain. It can get even harder to grasp when divided into subtypes of cloud storage, such as private and public clouds, internal cloud, external cloud and hybrid cloud, each still evolving and at times overlapping. The first part of this series will include closer looks at external and internal storage clouds, followed by a peek at where cloud storage is heading.

External cloud storage appeals to smaller firms, but large enterprises remain cautious
Web 2.0 and small businesses have been among the early adopters of external cloud storage, which allows customers to use their applications without having to buy expensive equipment or hire large IT staffs. While an internal cloud's infrastructure sits inside the data center, an external storage cloud is hosted by a service provider located outside the data center. The second part of this series examines both public and private external clouds and their appeal to the small business market.

Internal private cloud storage makes its way into larger enterprises
Larger enterprises are beginning to use internal private clouds to cut costs and manage enterprise data storage more efficiently, even if the lines remain blurry between these clouds and traditional data storage networks. The third part of this series looks at why private storage clouds are a better fit for large enterprises due to capital costs and IT management requirements.

Cloud storage: Not everyone thinks the future is bright for clouds
Everyone agrees that these are early days for cloud storage. Less clear is what the landscape will look like after these clouds mature. Although adoption of storage clouds is underway, many enterprise data storage administrators still need to be convinced of their value-- and point to clear obstacles still remaining with the technology -- before they will feel comfortable moving to the cloud. The final part of this series examines the future of cloud storage, particularly the possible performance and security issues associated with storing data on the cloud.

This was first published in January 2010