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Gartner: Cloud storage viable option, but proceed carefully

Storing information in the public cloud from a growing market of vendors is a viable alternative to on-premise, traditional storage options for some use cases, research firm Gartner says.

But cloud-based storage providers vary widely in their ability to meet the requirements of enterprise IT, which is why customers should rigorously plan and vet vendors before first engaging in a pilot and then deciding if mission-critical data should be moved into the cloud-based storage service.

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The benefits of cloud-based storage are similar to those offered by other forms of cloud computing: It can provide significant cost and agility benefits to end user customers. Concerns around security, privacy and accessibility - which are common concerns for other cloud use cases as well - also exist in the cloud storage market though.

The vendor landscape in the cloud storage market is budding. Big-name traditional storage vendors - Microsoft and IBM - are competing with up and coming all-cloud companies like Amazon Web Services and Nirvanix, while other companies are migrating from managed hosting into a set of cloud storage offerings. Initial vendors will compete on pricing, security and resiliency, Gartner says, while "forward-looking" providers differentiate on service reliability, support, ease of management, turnkey deployments and integrated value-add services.

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Watch out for hidden costs too, Gartner warns. Consider the total cost of ownership, which goes beyond just the per-GB storage rate, but also includes bandwidth, data access costs, migration fees and both internal and external support requirements. The generic, pay-as-you-go model that all these providers use is a fundamentally different sales and support model compared to traditional on-premise storage deployments. But, vendors offer APIs for data access and automatic scalability meant to meet all the demands of customers, no matter the size of data they store.

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.


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