Amazon announced their Storage Gateway (beta) on January 25th, about two days before my article on VMWare and Citrix squaring off in the “Dropbox for Enterprise” market. In my article I noted that VMWare and Citrix are exploiting an enterprise based limitation of Dropbox, Evernote and Box introduced by supporting a Consumerization of IT (CoIT) product. Consumer-based file-share-and-synch applications cannot be installed in a company’s data center. As file-share-synch drives cloud adoption in the enterprise, vendors emerge from all corners.
The Storage Gateway is initially targeted at an easy-to-deploy-in-the-cloud workload – backup. Moving backup data to the cloud requires the least amount contract negotiations between business units, IT and cloud service providers.
The Storage Gateway provides Amazon a NEW engagement with Enterprises. Engaging with data center managers enables Amazon to develop products designed for on-premises deployments.
As the Storage Gateway product and deployment matures, Amazon’s ecosystem of applications can leverage the on-premises footprint. Specifically, Dropbox, which has not had an on-premises version of file-share-and-synch, can work with enterprises to address that gap.
From the AWS Storage Gateway FAQ:
Q. How does the AWS Storage Gateway work?
“…Data written to your Gateway-Stored volumes is stored on your on-premises storage hardware, and asynchronously stored in Amazon S3 in the form of Amazon EBS snapshots. This provides your on-premises applications with low-latency access to their entire data sets, while providing durable, off-site backups…“
It is clear form the FAQ, that storing the data onsite is clearly in the plan. AWS S3 will be used as a backup for snapshots. This is akin to NetApp’s SnapMirror functionality for snapshots.
(Note: Expect the low price “snapmirror like functionality” from Amazon to be a burden on both EMC (NASDAQ:EMC) and NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) high margin software offerings in the coming fiscal years.)
File-Share-and-Synch Vendors Emerge; what do we call this?
New vendors offering file-share-and-synchronization storage and application systems have approached DCIG in the last couple of months. However, each vendor has a slightly different name for the same market. In the midst of every conversation, I ask them – what are you calling this market place?
Vendor responses have varied from “that’s your job as analyst” to “dropbox like solution for the enterprise.” Buyers are struggling with what to call the market and products that service it. In the end, buyers suffer because it is difficult to identify products, competitors and overall requirements.
Further research of the market exposed “Mobile Collaboration” based on research Forrester was doing. Forrester’s assessment of the available products in 2011 for smartphones and tablets was accurate, it failed to capture the source of the data made available for collaboration in those devices – enterprise file and content management systems.
Client availability in an App Store for a smartphone or tablet is a minimum barrier to entry for file-share-and-synch infrastructure. In addition, an on-premises installation is a crucial requirement for infrastructure as shared by vendors and enterprise buyers.
Vendors offering released products that address file-share-and-synch, mobile application and on-premises storage requirement include: