How You Can Add Value in the Rapidly Evolving Cloud Ecosystem

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It is no secret that the cloud has changed the way businesses operate. Trends like bring your own device (BYOD) have made a significant impact on enterprises, and these trends are creating a permanent paradigm shift. For example, “the rapid proliferation of consumer mobile devices is changing the traditional IT environment in enterprises, as 90 percent of enterprises have already deployed mobile devices, with smartphones being most widely deployed, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Eighty-six percent of enterprises surveyed said that they plan to deploy media tablets this year.” (source: Gartner Survey Shows BYOD Is Top Concern for Enterprise Mobile Security).

BYOD is just one example, but it is indicative of how the business ecosystem is changing and how these changes have created a growing demand for cloud storage. To increase enterprise mobility, organizations worldwide have built out data centers and leveraged cloud data centers to enable greater mobility while meeting the needs of performance, capacity, efficiency and security.

While the demand for cloud storage is clearly growing, the increasing diversity of storage needs makes it a challenge for enterprises to know how to best leverage resources. Therefore, businesses are seeking to establish long-term partnerships with vendors that can provide needed expertise in hardware, software and services, as well as the support to effectively respond to market conditions and meet business objectives. To remain competitive, solution providers must grasp the complexities of the cloud computing landscape, which includes businesses of all sizes in a variety of industry sectors.

The Cloud Market
The report "IDC Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform" (source: IDC) identifies “the most important trends and events in 2013 will cluster around what IDC calls the "3rd Platform" for IT industry growth and innovation — built on mobile devices, cloud services, social technologies, and Big Data, as well as the emerging high-value industry solutions built on top of them, and the rising vendors (e.g., service providers and industry PaaS providers) and customers (e.g., consumers, SMBs, line-of-business executives, and emerging market customers) that will play leading roles in much of the next eight years' growth.”

According to the IDC Predictions report "There will be much greater urgency in 2013 as the market moves way past the 'exploration' stage to full-blown high-stakes competition. Vendors' ability (or inability) to compete on the 3rd Platform right now — even at the risk of cannibalizing their own 2nd Platform franchises — will reorder leadership ranks within the IT market and, ultimately, every industry that uses IT."

For a more granular understanding of the cloud market, storage solutions providers can look at IDC’s Worldwide Enterprise Storage for Public and Private Cloud 2011-2015 Forecast: Enabling Public Cloud Service Providers and Private Clouds (doc #230283, September 2011). The market analysis predicts that spending by cloud service providers on public cloud storage will grow at an annual compound rate of 23.6% between 2010 and 2015. In that same period, enterprise spending on private cloud storage will grow at a CAGR of 28.9%.

Adding Value
“The majority of organizations are adopting cloud, though around two out of three organizations have yet to decide how to formalize a strategy for cloud. Around one in eight is currently just planning to put together a strategy and road map, and just around one in four has actually already done so,” according to IDC White Paper, sponsored by Infosys: Adoption of Cloud: Private Cloud is Current Flavor but Hybrid Cloud is Fast Becoming a Reality , September 2012. In addition to allaying concerns regarding security and compliance, as well as ensuring performance and reliability, solution providers will position themselves for growth by developing and sharing their cloud-specific expertise. In the IDC report, Western European Dedicated Private Cloud. Hardware, Software, Networking and Services (IDC #SR03U, June 2012, IDC analysts suggested that forming partnerships between “technology companies and services companies is important to help create transparency in a complex market where clients think there are too many moving parts.”

A July CompTIA blog post written by Ian Moyse (source: Channels Employing Cloud) drew attention to this need for expertise. Moyse recognized increasing cloud adoption rates, but he also noted two critical shortcomings constraining cloud growth. These shortcomings again underscore the importance of partnerships between solution providers and businesses seeking to leverage the cloud:

1. Many businesses struggle with implementation.
2. Cloud solution providers struggle to showcase their value to prospective customers.

“More education is needed in cloud across all sectors to enable businesses to understand and utilize this important new technology option to its advantage, and this need for understanding stretches past simply the border of the IT department,” Moyse wrote.

Addressing Challenges
Huge data growth is being seen by companies in many industries. Businesses are not only experiencing increasing data volume, but the data is sometimes growing at a rate that is difficult to predict. Businesses will value solution providers that offer cost-effective scalability in terms of the performance and capacity to manage data.

Budd Van Lines, a nationwide goods carrier, showcased how rapidly storage demand can expand when it upgraded its security system:

Upgrade equals data explosion: While upgrading security camera resolution made business operations significantly safer for employees, it also dramatically increased Budd’s demand for storage to house those video files. As with many companies, Budd turned to cloud storage for fast deployment and scalability. A large number of businesses are experiencing a wave of data growth and are likely to value cost-effective scaling to manage those assets.

Many organizations have turned to the cloud to manage their data challenges, but each business will have different needs. In fact, the functionality demands for individual applications within the same business may be significantly different. Not every application will require the highest level of performance, and solutions that do not account for this variety result in wasted money. Flexibility as well as scalability will therefore be highly valued by companies seeking cloud storage.

Solution providers can add further value by addressing industry-specific challenges. The healthcare sector provides an especially clear example:

Long retention, quick retrieval: IT analyst George Crump pointed out in an InformationWeek article (source: Cloud Storage A Good Match For Healthcare) that data storage solutions based on a traditional archive-to-tape model are not viable for healthcare organizations, which not only need huge storage capacity as medical records go digital, but also need quick and instantaneous data retrieval so that a patient’s information can be pulled up during an emergency. Solution providers offering cloud storage not only offer long retention, quick retrieval, but can also add value in other industry-specific ways, like meeting the extensive and rigorous compliance requirements set by healthcare regulations.

In addition to considering industry demands, a strategy for growth must account for how business size impacts storage needs. IDC’s research showed that small and mid-sized businesses are turning to the public cloud in large numbers to address the growth of data and meet needs for backing up, archiving and sharing information. The growth of big data initiatives has spurred the need for “new classes of storage solutions,” IDC said, to handle large volumes of data in single or multiple datacenters while addressing ownership and privacy issues.

Bringing It All Together
As has been discussed, the cloud ecosystem is complex, and will likely become more so as industries foster integration between their cloud applications and on-premise systems. As IDC noted, partnerships between companies have become an essential factor in navigating the complexities of cloud computing. It is important to consider strategic partnerships with technology companies that are well-positioned for long-term value.

Seagate understands diverse hardware needs and has made investments into multiple types of solutions, so that cloud architectures built on Seagate drives can scale effectively and still meet budgetary concerns. Seagate knows best what storage device or mix of storage devices to use for cloud computing and cloud storage solutions. In addition to a comprehensive understanding of the storage ecosystem, Seagate has built innovative features such as PowerChoice™ technology, Seagate RAID Rebuild™ technology, Self-Encrypting Drive technology, and Seagate Instant Secure Erase to effectively balance performance, capacity, efficiency and security of cloud customers.

As the leading storage device supplier to cloud infrastructure, Seagate can enable its partners to build on their own expertise. This allows solution providers to better meet the evolving demands of the market, as well as showcase understanding at both the hardware and software level. Solution providers can also leverage Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partners to deliver the hardware and software needed for public, private or hybrid cloud environments. Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance Partners have access to the latest innovations in storage devices and features, so that solution providers can always offer the best value to their customers regardless of their unique storage needs.

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