There's an increasingly competitive market for cloud storage options that are managed by providers but hosted on customer sites, providing the security of a behind-the-firewall storage option with the convenience of a managed hardware appliance.
The latest to the market is EMC with its VMAX Cloud Edition, box of storage servers that customers either rent or own that usually sits in their data center, but is managed by EMC. Need more storage capacity? EMC will send you more racks. Need an update to the system software? EMC takes care of it.
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VMAX Cloud Edition is optimized for the private cloud, complete with automatic provisioning and tiered support offerings. EMC manages the system by tweaking its capacity for optimal performance and monitors the box's usage for automated reporting and billing to end users. The systems include restful APIs and are meant to be used in secure multi-tenant environments, like a private cloud. "You take the expertise but don't have to deal with the hassle," says Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Peters. "This is for people who want storage who don't want to be storage experts."
This is EMC's second major VMAX product. The company released VMAX SP last year focused on service providers, but Cloud Edition is aimed at end-users, resellers and service providers. Cloud Edition, which EMC announced at the VMware Partner Exchange event this week, is also available as a public cloud option where the appliance is housed by EMC and accessed as a public cloud storage service not on the customer's premise. The service is priced by the per-terabyte of storage under management.
There are a variety of other players in this cloud storage market. Nirvanix, for example, is a cloud storage vendor that offers storage in three flavors: public, hybrid and private. Its public cloud service, which is hosted by the company in its data centers, can be accessed directly by end users, or resold through reseller agreements with vendors. A hybrid model includes an on-premise box that is supported for increased capacity with the public cloud, while the private edition sits all on the customer's site. "Customers really like this idea of flexible provisioning, delivering on-demand services on a per-GB per month pricing model," says Dru Borden, CEO of Nirvanix.
NetApp is another vendor that offers a variety of on-premise appliances. That company has been touting its relationship with Amazon Web Services, to allow connectivity between an on-premise NetApp system with AWS's public cloud.
Then there are a range of other cloud storage gateway providers, which provide an interface for customers to access public cloud resources for easier on-boarding and management, sometimes including on-premise appliances as well. These vendors include Twin Strata, Panzura, Nasuni StorSimple, Riverbed and others.
Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.