O n January 12th, we announced our new solution for offsite DR storage using Amazon’s cloud infrastructure – Q-Cloud Protect for Amazon Web Services.  There’s a great article about it in eWeek here.

Offering a product that runs in Amazon’s cloud infrastructure is a brand new type of offering for us, and I’ve learned a lot over the past year and even in the past few weeks speaking with customers, partners and analysts about this new product.

I’ve spent some time speaking with firms of all industries and sizes – private and public universities, small financial services firms, multi-national distributors, government agencies and contractors, and more. Here are some takeaways:

1. Two clear use cases seem to be dominating cloud consideration:  archive storage and offsite storage for DR.

These are the use cases where leveraging the cloud makes the most sense for a couple of reasons: (1) data is stored in a datacenter that is geographically separated from customers’ datacenters, so data is protected against local disasters, and (2) archive and DR data is rarely accessed.  Quantum has brought Q-Cloud Archive, Q-Cloud Vault, and Q-Cloud Protect to market to address these two use cases specifically, so that is resonating with customers.  This blog by Jim Miller, senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, talks about business continuity by leveraging the cloud, and illustrates many of the reasons why we are bringing these solutions to market.

2. In general, customers need a better understanding of what the cloud will really cost.

I have yet to speak with a customer who understands the pricing models of the large public cloud providers.  That’s why I’m convinced the estimator tools that we have created for our Q-Cloud offerings can provide a good value to prospective clients.  We can help to estimate what cloud storage costs will be by month and by year for our Q-Cloud offerings, helping our customers explore the cloud as an option and budget for cloud storage. Mike Vizard touches on cost issues in his article for ITBusiness Edge.

3. Being agnostic when it comes to cloud providers will eventually become important

We view the cloud as just another tier of storage.  One with pros and cons, and one that has great benefits for certain use cases and workflows.  But as we embrace the cloud, there is clear and resounding feedback from customers that being cloud agnostic is just as important as being application-agnostic for a storage provider like Quantum.  Maybe not today, but as cloud storage becomes more and more commoditized this will become the norm.

4. No one has this figured out just yet.

Every customer and agency is trying to figure out their cloud strategy, and the roadmap to leverage the cloud.  Companies have all adopted the cloud to some degree, most commonly software-as-a-service, but everyone is still in a learning mode.  I’ve spoken with customers that have tried the cloud and discontinued use for various reasons, and customers that are just now testing out public cloud storage for small data sets.

How Can Quantum Help?

The approach we’ve taken with cloud storage is to make it easy to integrate with existing Quantum storage products that our customers use today.  This can help provide a practical first step toward leveraging the benefits of the cloud for those use cases that seem to be most common:  archive and DR storage.

Q-Cloud Archive and Vault are integrated directly into our StorNext-based storage platforms – Xcellis and Artico, so customers can use existing tiered storage policies to move old files and folders to the cloud.  The cloud looks just like any other tier of storage, so for administrators it’s easy, and StorNext preserves access of these files to users and applications even when the files are in the cloud, making cloud adoption and deployment really simple.

Q-Cloud Protect works with an on-premise DXi appliance to provide deduplicated, offsite storage for DR.  Since it connects to existing DXi appliances, it plugs right in to customers’ existing infrastructures, and gives them the option to store deduplicated data in the cloud.

So reach out and let us know if we can help you take some practical first steps toward cloud storage adoption, and make sure to watch the Q-Cloud Protect AWS webinar where we discuss all three offerings in more detail.

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