Everyone has a view of the IaaS market as of late, at least if you go by Twitter and the major trades. In particular, a recent Network World story caused quite a stir, because it described Rackspace’s decision to sell “managed services” as a retreat from the commodity IaaS market. At Nasuni, we see this as yet another example of a crucial trend: the commoditization of raw cloud storage, the thinning of vendors that provide it, and the incredible value that companies like Nasuni can create by building next-generation storage solutions using these components.
Brandon Butler’s story was met with debate on Twitter and elsewhere. But, there should be little to talk about. As David Linthicum wrote in a follow-up for InfoWorld, “the reality is that the market has anointed three big providers: Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft Azure.” Those three are the leaders in raw infrastructure services, including cloud storage, and they have the size, scale and performance to squeeze everyone out of the market.
The raw infrastructure provided by the Big Three is arguably the greatest enabling technology since client-server. Rackspace made the right decision to move towards managed services, despite the derision they seem to be facing from some in the press and analyst community. The real value going forward is not in raw, commodity cloud, but in the services one can build using it.
From the very beginning, The Nasuni Service has used raw cloud storage as its next-generation disk drive, a disk drive with what would previously have been thought of as having magical properties: unlimited capacity, access from anywhere, unparalleled redundancy and availability. This infinite supply of storage has enabled us to reinvent the file system using the cloud as a massively scalable back end to give Nasuni functionality that’s well beyond that of traditional storage arrays, including centralized management of the entire storage infrastructure, global file synchronization, automatic data protection and disaster recovery for all locations, and global file locking, to name just a few.
To unlock the value inherent in commodity cloud storage requires building a robust services layer on top of it that solves a specific business problem. No enterprise solves its tier-2 storage challenges by buying a palate of disk drives. Until recently, they bought a storage system from EMC or NetApp. Increasingly, however, globally distributed enterprises are turning to Nasuni to unlock the value of commodity cloud and forever separate data from hardware, creating single instance of data that can be centrally managed.
We live in a very interesting time for enterprise IT. Rackspace certainly won’t be the last commodity IaaS company to recognize that the war for that space has already been won, and that there is a lot more promising ground in adding value to these commodity cloud components.