“Cloud” refers to the part of a company’s IT infrastructure hosted by third-party providers, i.e., cloud vendors. One of the benefits of the cloud, is you can rent space as you need it without having to invest in your own servers. Data storage can be pushed on to the cloud. This is also called “Storage as a Service.”
Amazon created the cloud idea and hosts the largest cloud infrastructure in the world. Their cloud storage offering is called “S3.” The do-it-yourself programmer working at home or the startup company can open an account and start storing data right away. You access their storage by using web services. To import and export large amounts of data you can use the Amazon Web Service Import/Export function. For backup, the system has a versioning capability so you can rollback (i.e. recover) data. To archive data, you can use Amazon Glacier.
Amazon S3 uses web services, however, that does not mean you have to reprogram your JDBC Spring Hibernate applications to use web services. They will work together.
EMC is also a vendor of cloud-storage hardware. Their cloud product is called “Atmos.” Time-Warner NaviSite is an example customer. EMC’s product provides the ability to keep a meter running, so that the cloud vendor can charge each customer based on their data usage.
Atmos does not use a hierarchical file system structure like there is on your PC or Linux server. Instead each file is abstracted as an object that is referenced by an object ID. There are no RAID groups, LUNs, or file systems. The architecture is active-active meaning it is automatically replicated, thus providing redundancy. The Global Namespace gives one view of the data without having to administer the individual physical storage nodes. Like Amazon S3, it is front ended with REST web services. (REST web services are like traditional SOAP web services except they are easier to program.)
Lots of companies are setting themselves up as cloud service vendors. Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon have entered the market in the USA. This is in addition to other big companies such as IBM, Softlayer, Amazon S3, Google Storage, or Microsoft Azure.
Windows Azure provides storage for structured and unstructured databases and data files plus backups. Their NoSQL database offering is called “Table Service.” You are not stuck using the Windows .Net languages to use any of that. The system supports Python, Java, Php, Ruby, and Node.js.
IBM is taking a shot at its competitors SAP and Oracle to promote their cloud as a platform to run SAP and Oracle applications. SAP and Oracle ERP systems, of course, require lots of storage.
Enterprise Cloud Storage is a topic certain to be presented to an organization’s IT staff as companies are looking to the cloud to lower costs. Alternatively, a larger company can maintain their own cloud in-houses using products designed for cloud service providers.