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The Final IT Evolution – Cloud

For cloud, data is key and so storage needs to evolve a new core architecture based on IP networking

Not long ago, the dominant form of electronic communication among people was telephones. The core of the infrastructure was the telephone network. When the Internet emerged during the nineties, IP networks become the new core for electronic communications. Many proprietary standards and technologies died during each of these phases - such as the telegraph and, largely, the token ring.

As cloud is transitioning into the mainstream, it's likely that the pattern will repeat. For cloud, data is key and so storage needs to evolve a new core architecture based on IP networking. Companies such as Google and Facebook recognized this new core approach and embraced it in their architectures. However, to reach the stage where storage is a standard core architecture akin to IP networks today, we must move well beyond today's hype.

In the past two evolutions, there were always multiple technology vendors and multiple services providers involved, often with multiple competing approaches. In a typical multi-year, sometimes multi-decade business cycle, there are multiple stages. Pioneering leaders will emerge in stage 1, followed by a burst of new players in stage 2 and finally consolidation in stage 3. Right now, we are in the first stage and the second stage is just beginning. However, without supporting newer technologies in the storage space, players in the second stage can expect larger churn. We could even expect more Nirvanix-type situations. Does this mean that Amazon is a clear winner? Not really, this is simply a natural transition from stage 1 to 2.

To explore further, in the previous two evolutions, technology vendors converged on some interop standards. However, storage technology vendors have a long way to go in this regard. In the absence of standards convergence, large enterprises often evolve their own storage cores. For example, I recall when enterprises formed their own network core on leased telephone lines from service providers by combining PPP, Frame Relay, and ATM. However, due to the lack of standards, enterprises are unlikely to create their own approaches for storage.

As a result, new storage technologies are key to the cloud evolution. Established vendors may recognize this fact but their legacy technologies and install base are holding them back. Further, new technologies such as SSD drives and IP encapsulations such as FCoE are taking up much of their resources and focus. So, new players - such as CloudByte and other startups - with new approaches are critical. I believe that our efforts will soon make storage access as ubiquitous and as easy as picking up the phone and calling home.

More Stories By Felix Xavier

Felix Xavier is Founder and CTO of CloudByte. He has more than 15 years of development and technology management experience. He has built many high-energy technology teams, re-architected products and developed features from scratch. Most recently, Felix helped NetApp gain leadership position in storage array-based data protection by driving innovations around its product suite. He has filed numerous patents with the US patent office around core storage technologies. Prior to this, Felix worked at Juniper, Novell and IBM, where he handled networking technologies, including LAN, WAN and security protocols and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). Felix has master’s degrees in technology and business administration.

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