Is A Condensed Cloud the End of Backup?

Storage and backup has become so incredibly ubiquitous, it may be time to ask a particularly prickly question: has the expansion of backup solutions reached a critical mass? It’s not unlikely that a massive resizing (read: shrinking) of available solutions may happen in the very near future.

If you haven’t realized how big the backup storage world is, take a glance at Wikipedia’s lists on backup software and backup services. Both lists are hardly a complete guide to the wonderful world of backup offerings, but the very existence of these lists shows that the market is awash with solutions.

It’s possible that — like the virtualization world — only a few platforms will eventually persist. The market can bear only so many unique backup solutions and services. What’s more, many traditional backup appliances and solutions already link up to popular cloud-based backup technology, whether it’s Amazon EC2, Google Storage, or Microsoft’s Azure. That doesn’t mean all major vendors will have the last say when it comes to cloud backup, but it does mean there will come a point where differentiation in the cloud will matter and major players will emerge.

So when push comes to shove and the cloud backup market starts to condense, there will likely be a round of mergers and acquisitions that take place. Some companies will get scooped up for patents, others will merge their data centers and some companies may simply close up shop or adapt their solution sets. And at some point, the channel will have to come to grips with the changing storage paradigm.

This presents two unique opportunities for the channel:

  • The channel can assist in data migration services to ensure data from one backup provider is safely relocated on the newer, better backup service.
  • The channel can provide consultative services to ensure user data is placed into the backup cloud that best suits their needs.

At this point, backup appliances, much like thin clients, will exist as endpoints with various features related to the cloud it links up with. And much like the virtualization market, it will shrink the amount of complexity required when picking a backup solution. It should also make it easier for partners to specialize in specific niches in the backup market, while worrying less about learning a particular cloud backup system.

For managed service providers, this condensing of cloud storage should also translate into decreased complexity, which in turn, could allow for a wide range of available options for customers. MSPs  could offer all ‘major’ cloud backup solutions under one roof, providing their customer with a cloud choice and potentially even migration services should any one customer fear vendor lock-in.

What actions can be taken to get ready for the big backup downsizing? Simply consider the long-term benefits of any particular solution. Is it future proof? Is data easily retrievable? Are there available APIs for the manipulation of data? Can data from a 3rd party cloud easily be transferred into a larger cloud repository?

Although data seems to be ubiquitous, that doesn’t mean it’s mobile. At the end of the day, it’s important to have the data you want in the places you need it. Ensure that is always a possibility. In the immortal words of the the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

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