Q&A with Andres Rodriguez of Nasuni

By Andres Rodriguez (Profile)
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Wednesday, June 8th 2011
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VSM: The cloud storage industry, while still in its early days, seems to be shaking out already with early entrants like EMC and Iron Mountain bowing out. Why do you think that is?

AR: It is important not to confuse the raw storage providers with the makers of business storage systems. EMC makes some of the best storage systems in the world. EMC is a storage vendor but it does not make any of its hard drives. Hard drives are a commodity business that is all about low prices and quality at scale. Cloud storage is no different. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft, with their massive data centers, are the equivalent of the hard drive vendors in traditional storage. They can offer low prices and a high quality raw storage service through sheer operational excellence and economies of scale. However, that raw service is still far from what most businesses need. Raw cloud storage lacks performance, security and any sort of comprehensive account management. It is a critical component of any storage service offering but it is also just as unusable to most businesses as a solitary hard drive.

Nasuni belongs to a new generation of storage vendors focused on harnessing the power of raw cloud storage to deliver complete storage systems that are built to run businesses.  To this end, Nasuni offers a whole storage system that leverages cloud storage to offer a complete solution for businesses. We eliminate latency to the cloud and offer end-to-end data encryption. We provide full account management that includes cloud migration services in order to protect our customers from turmoil in the cloud storage market. This enables organizations to benefit from the scale and cost advantages of cloud storage without assuming unnecessary risk.

Iron Mountain failed to understand the importance of offering a complete storage service to their customers. They mistook the hard drive for the storage system. The fact of the matter is, the raw cloud storage providers must grow very rapidly or else they will not achieve the economies of scale that enable them to be profitable. Iron Mountain is an example of a company that was unable to achieve this scale and gain efficiencies. Like many other technology offerings, over time, we will see more consolidation and a few extremely large players will dominate the market. Large web properties like Amazon and Google have the required infrastructure in place already, and thus have the potential to have the most long-term viability. Their own internal infrastructures already trump even the largest enterprise data centers in the world. That said, in the end what matters most is not who the cloud service provider is, but whether customer data is secure and protected—and that’s the business Nasuni is in.

VSM: So the cloud remains a viable business model?

AR: Absolutely. While recent events have certainly given us all a moment to pause and reflect on the viability of cloud services long term, the need to reduce data center costs still remains great, and the strain on end-to-end storage solutions trying to cope with data and especially file growth continues to increase.

The challenge when thinking about how to leverage cloud technology to store and protect your data in a different way is to consider what the cloud is good for, and what the cloud is not good for.