The other news item I alluded to in the previous post is a little company called Nasuni. I chatted with them at the urging of the smartest PR person in the business, Judy Smith at JPR Communications, a couple of days ago and I thought I would share my views here.
Here is a pretty picture from the slide deck I was shown by the boss over at Nasuni. Basically describes the play. Nasuni creates a virtual NAS device under VMware that lets you connect to their partner cloud storage services in the background — including Amazon S3, Iron Mountain Digital, RackSpace and soon Nirvanix. Essentially, these guys are service aggregators, so if you need more capacity, you can combine assets of different providers in a single virtualized storage pool.
I know, you wonder whether I’m off my meds for even using the terms “cloud” and “storage” together in a sentence. I was wondering the same thing, actually. Except this dovetails with something I have been wondering about for some time.
Let’s assume that a handful of the tens of storage cloud providers still exist this time next year. Let’s assume further that they are able to compete with the falling cost and increasing capacity of disk drives (which will shortly see 10s of TBs on a single 2.5 inch platter with Bit Patterned Media and related technologies from Toshiba, et al.). Remember that they are pitching $.25 per GB right now, but the Toshiba technology will reduce the cost per GB of disk to fractions of a penny if my projections are correct.
Anyway, one could imagine a world in which cloud based storage will have a fluctuating price, like any traded commodity. One day, service provider A would offer a TB at $10, the next at $9.87 or something. His competitors would be doing the same thing. Getting the picture yet?
Imagine that you buy disk at a spot price on a given day for one year. You need more the next day, so you choose a different vendor with a different spot price. Sort of what ENRON was trying to do with electrical power buys — before they got greedy and decided to park money offshore and lie to investors.
Anyway, you would need a common facility — a service aggregator — to get all the storage buys wrangled into a single service. Nasuni does this in a very basic way, and adds a lot of bells and whistles to your storage in the process — the kind of things that hardware guys insist on putting on their controllers.
There is nothing new about what Nasuni is up to — essentially they provide a virtualization layer and lots of functionality on that layer. But, you got to hand it to Andres: he is always thinking.
Now here’s where he and I stop our love fest. Nasuni doesn’t aggregate or take any responsiblity whatsoever for the service levels provided by the vendors from whom his users elect to source their storage. He doesn’t have the money to guarantee their uptime or compliance with SLAs. Pity that.
Ultimately, cloud storage may sell to the masses of little companies who believe the woo the vendors are pitching and have no resources internally to field or manage a good infrastructure. But, like ASPs and SSPs, I expect the appeal even to this crowd to wane as more and more companies can’t get at their data in a timely way when they need to.
Interesting play, though. Nasuni sort of reminds me of Xsigo in some ways.