Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bill Gates spills Microsoft cloud computing strategy

Storage Optimization
Posted in Uncategorized by storageoptimization on the August 28, 2008

Image: PC Magazine

Good old billg has something to say in his “exit interview” about storage in the cloud in this week’s PC Magazine. In essence, his view is that computing and storage will move to the cloud at different rates, and that storage is the more logical thing to move first. Your local storage (presumably on your Windows PC in Mr. Gates’ worldview) will be a cache of a subset of the master data held in the cloud.,2817,2321132,00.asp

Moving data in to the cloud makes a lot of sense, as it makes that data available to computers everywhere, and it also centralizes management of data for backups, geo-replication, and hardware refresh in places where economies of scale can take place that an average user or company could not manage or afford.

I agree with Bill on a couple of these points. I think storage does move to the cloud faster than compute, both because people already understand the idea of storage networks, and that their storage is on a network somewhere –in the cloud, that network pipe is just a bit longer. Compute is something people are use to having close at hand, either on their desktop or in their own data center.

For storage in the cloud to really take off, though, I think storage optimization is an absolutely key ingredient. As regular readers of this blog know, when I say storage optimization I mean a combination of content-aware technologies to drastically reduce the size of data (content aware compression, subfile deduplication, and logical compaction to name a few). There are two places where storage optimization makes sense for storage in the cloud to take off. One is at the customer end of the pipe – if you can shrink your data before you send it to the cloud, you’ll use less bandwidth getting it there and getting it back, and since most “clouds” charge you per Gigabyte, you’ll pay less too.

The other place is in the data center of the storage cloud provider. That’s going to be a very competitive marketplace, and the cloud vendors that can charge you the least amount per Gigabyte – to store, to transfer, to replicate –are going to have the competitive advantage. So the cloud vendors that do the best job of integrating storage optimization in to the cloud in a transparent way will have the edge. And the cloud is a great place to get that edge.

Think of deduplication, for example. If you deduplicate songs just in your own house, well you may only have one copy of each song. Why would you have ten copies of a Britney Spears song? (I might ask why you would have any at all … but we’ll leave that for another time.) However, if 5 million people store their data at a cloud storage provider, how many copies of that hit song might end up there? Does the cloud provider need to store 5 million copies of the same thing? No. If they do, they are being very inefficient. A song is a simple example, but even with enterprise data, the more data you have, the more likely it is that you’ll find patterns, correlations, duplicates, or data relationships that can be exploited for better compression. So the cloud offers an opportunity for efficiency that don’t exist at each little pool of local storage on your hard drive today.

To me, storage optimization and the move of storage to the cloud make a perfect match.

Storage Optimization aims to provide an objective look at the fast-changing world of storage. The blog was started by Carter George, co-founder of Ocarina Networks and provides regular commentary, including guest posts from industry leaders, customers and influencers, on how storage innovations are helping to shape the future of business.

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