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Why getting rid of files signals the third generation of cloud infrastructure



Author:  Leo Leung, VP Corporate Marketing, Scality


Noted VC Fred Wilson recently stated  "we finally got rid of files," noting that the current generation doesn't even store MP3s on their phones. Indeed, it simpler to live file-free... at least in terms of managing them one by one, folder by folder. Files are “more obfuscated" as my friend Raj (a content pro) says, within the application. When individuals use Spotify, they don't have to deal with MP3 or AAC file formats, or the ID3 metadata. Same thing goes for basic documents in Google Docs, photos in Instagram, etc. Individuals don’t have to think about storage - the music, docs, and photos are simply there. 


The transition for work-related files is way behind.


While Salesforce, Workday and other SaaS offerings have reduced the amount of sales quota tracking spreadsheets and six-inch thick HR policy binders, many productivity workflows haven't improved. Bad workflow renders today's file "sync and share" solutions as yet another file directory/content management dumping ground, just with the data housed elsewhere (a whole other post on this soon).


On top of that, most of today’s IT infrastructure isn't designed for AWS-like scale and maintainability. This is  true regardless of whether you are hosting cloud storage internally for your enterprise, or if you're building a storage cloud to underpin your public cloud and SaaS offerings.


Despite the lag, the shift to services and apps is inevitable. To achieve something close to the efficiency of the biggest cloud providers, and support the wave of newer applications, enterprises will either have to build their own clouds, or use someone else’s.


From an infrastructure perspective, we're now in the third generation. The first took conventional enterprise storage technologies and stitched them together - making brittle and limited scale services. The second virtualized some of the components, easing some aspects of deployment and scaling, but still maintained ill-fitting architectures like scale-up storage, or even bespoke storage.


Customers we work with are ready for the third generation, which decouples the capabilities from the hardware, making the overall system more scalable and fit for orchestration. Analysts like IDC agree, predicting that "75% of IaaS provider offerings will be redesigned, rebranded, or phased out over the next 12 to 24 months.” We’ve seen this “redesign” happening in both service providers and large enterprises.


Some of these customers are betting on OpenStack as the framework for the third generation. Having been through the first two generations, these customers now realize the need for greater automation and the importance of a scalable, future-proof storage foundation. They envision a two-tier storage architecture: one small latency-sensitive tier and one multi-petabyte capacity-driven tier. To be effective, a product in this capacity-driven tier must have the performance to support multiple workloads (not just archive). It must be built with failure in mind, designed for 100 percent availability in the face of millions of users. It must be massively scalable without adding administration overhead. It must take advantage of the constant improvement of hardware by being fully decoupled from it.


Of course, if the bet on the overall framework is OpenStack, then the storage layer must be compatible with the OpenStack Swift and Cinder APIs, and the increasing amount of control that the OpenStack framework will provide.


Simplifying “files" for individuals has a mirrored effect on infrastructures: they need to get radically more scalable, available, and automated. The company I work for has one example of the next generation (Scality RING storage), but it’s one piece of the broader transition, also exemplified by HP Helion.




Visit Scality at to learn more about the Scality RING. You can also reach me @lleung on Twitter anytime.

Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
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About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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