EMC, one of the world’s six largest IT corporations, isn’t necessarily seen as an innovator in the data storage industry. In fact, its history has been that of a savvy company that recognizes innovation when it sees it, then uses its considerable financial power to acquire and go to market with it.
To wit: It has acquired some 40 companies since 2003.
On Nov. 10, however, EMC showed that it is now officially a next-gen IT creator when it comes to cloud storage development.
EMC introduced Atmos, its first cloud-building appliance package-a combination of software and industry-standard x86 server hardware that can result in a multi-petabyte, enterprise-level cloud storage infrastructure.
“This represents about two years’ worth of development,” Jon Martin, director of product marketing for EMC’s Cloud Computing group, told me. “It was designed and built by our global development team-completely internally developed product by EMC.”
Atmos was developed to help address the unabated growth of unstructured data being compiled, Martin said.
“Over a billion songs are being shared on the Internet, tens of billions of photos are being shared, and so on. What we’re talking about is everything from the smallest ringtones to the largest HD video files that exist,” Martin said.
Atmos is aimed at Web 2.0 and Internet providers, and telecommunications, media and entertainment companies so they can securely build and deliver cloud-based information-centric services and applications at a massive scale by providing the capabilities of centralized management and automated placement of information globally, Martin said.
What the Analysts Say About Atmos
“Despite all the talk, the cloud market is still an emerging market,” Terri McClure, storage analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, told me. “There are numerous inhibitors, such as cost of WAN [wide-area network] bandwidth, security concerns, trust. But the train has left the station and is accelerating.
“Everyone has a cloud strategy; so many vendors have cloud strategies that users don’t know what cloud is anymore. This announcement is just the beginning for EMC; they did not discuss a cloud strategy, just software packaged as cloud-optimized storage. There is more to come. And the message here is pretty clear-it’s about storage.”
With Atmos, EMC is claiming to establish a new market segment called “cloud-optimized storage,” McClure said.
“Most scale-out architectures are designed for high-bandwidth, large file sharing [media and entertainment, Web 2.0 multimedia] and HPC,” McClure said. “Atmos is not HPC file storage redeployed to a new use case; it is designed from the ground up for use over the Internet. It is a centrally managed distributed architecture-not a local file system with a global name space.”
Atmos is designed to scale for file storage and distribution with up to hundreds of locations, yet still be managed as a single system.
“I would not put this in a class with most of what I’ve seen from other vendors; I would not compare this with the HP ExDS9100 or Isilon for the above reasons,” McClure said. “I would not compare it to Amazon S3; it is not a service. But there are some startups like Nirvanix that come close. But Nirvanix offers a file system-based architecture, with all the associated file system semantics and management.”
Ben Woo, vice president of enterprise storage research for IDC, told me that the Atmos software essentially provides “context” for information.
“A new class of information infrastructure, like EMC Atmos, is therefore required to help expose the business potential that can be gained from information mobility through an ‘any to any’ architecture,” Woo said.
“Organizations that leverage this architecture with a highly flexible and granular policy engine will gain a significant competitive advantage.”