Cloud Storage Services
2010 could be the year of cloud storage and cloud services. Consider the recent developments: Amazon’s expansion of the Asia Pacific Region (along with the US and EU regions) for S3; Google’s addition of support for any file type in January; the official release of Windows Azure Storage in February; the strengthening of the strategic partnership between EMC Atmos Online and AT&T Synaptic Storage; the important new partnership between Nirvanix and Commvault; and Mezeo has signed up several new hosting partners.
Clearly, there’s lots of cloud buzz. As shown in the following Google Trend graph about "cloud storage", Cloud Storage search volume tripled in less than a year.
Fig 1: Google Trend of Cloud Storage
Desktop Access To the Cloud
A common theme of cloud storage services is that they all provide some API (Application Programming Interface) over HTTP. For Cloud Storage to be as popular today as FTP for the past decade, it needs to have native desktop access to remote storage. Nobody wants to code a Ruby script or a .NET application just to get some simple transfer done using the API.
For consumers, this means that a mapped network drive to cloud storage is perfect. However, SMBs may prefer to have cloud storage attached to their existing IT infrastructure, such as file servers. These SMB users can use native CIFS/NFS connectivity to connect to the cloud through the file server. Attaching cloud storage to the file server makes it easy for SMBs to leverage cloud storage and to extend current infrastructure. Is your file server cloud ready?
Attach Cloud Storage to the File Server
The idea of attaching storage volumes to a file server while exposing it as disks to the OS is not new. This is what Windows Server 2003 or 2008 does when you use it as a file server. Attaching cloud storage to Windows 2003/2008 Servers is transparent to the users, adds cloud storage capacity, and you can backup the file server to the cloud.
From Ubiquitous Client To CloudAFS
Gladinet's effort is to combine different cloud storage services and bind them to the Windows OS. In the case of Cloud Desktop, the end result is a ubiquitous client that turns Windows Explorer into a Storage Portal. . All the supported cloud storage services are mountable within a single virtual network drive with a locally accessible drive letter.
As a natural extension, the cloud network drive can be moved to the server side and attached to the file server. Cloud Attached File Server => CloudAFS! Now your file server is cloud ready and your organization can leverage cloud storage immediately, without any disruption of workflow or interruption in service.
Fig 2: Accessing Cloud Storage via a network drive
Fig.3 Accessing Cloud Storage via a file server
For SMBs that are looking for a quick way to leverage cloud storage and to enhance the existing storage infrastructure in the company, attaching Cloud Storage to a file server and publishing CIFS/NFS shares to end users is a good way to go.