Miscellaneous Forbes

Gateways To The Clouds


Tom Coughlin, Contributor

July 16, 2014

Earlier this year Google and Amazon reported significant price decreases in their on-line cloud storage offerings.  In March, Google dropped its cloud storage prices by 68% across the board.  As a result Google storage prices were $0.026 per gigabyte per month or $0.31 per GB per year.  Amazon quickly matched Google’s pricing.  These new lower on-line storage prices are possible due to higher storage capacity storage devices, such as 5 TB and soon 6 TB HDDs, with device prices similar to older lower capacity storage devices, thus reducing the $/GB.

Lowering the price of cloud storage, as well as lower price cloud processing is making on-line enterprise resources more attractive to more companies and for more applications.  It is also increasing interest in building new storage businesses and architectures based upon cloud storage.  Cloud storage gateways are an important way for companies to access the cloud and add cloud storage to existing on-premise storage.

According to a TechTarget web site, SearchCloudStorage, a cloud storage gateway is a hardware- or software-based appliance located on the customer premises that serves as a bridge between local applications and remote cloud-based storage. The products are sometimes called cloud storage appliances or cloud storage controllers.  The Wikipedia entry says that a cloud storage gateway is a network appliance or server, which resides at the customer premises and translates cloud storage APIs such as SOAP or to block-based storage protocols such as iSCSI or Fibre Channel or file-based interfaces such as NFS or CIFS.

Cloud storage gateways provide a way for local storage to work with cloud storage and they are very useful for integrating cloud storage into existing on planned on-premise storage.  Cloud storage can be used for disaster recovery, collaborative or archiving purposes.  As the costs for cloud storage decline they are being considered for more and more applications.

EMC announced that they will acquire TwinStrata, whose CloudArray gateway product encrypts and compresses data before sending it to the cloud, at an estimated purchase price of about $100 million.  Start-up CTERA recently raised $25 million in funding.  CTERA offers a suite of products including a cloud storage gateway.  Several other companies such as Nasuni and Zadara offer products that provide gateways to connect local storage with cloud storage services.  Most of these companies charge for these storage gateways by the location or the amount of data that is served.

Start-up Panzura is offering a free cloud gateway virtual appliance that can be used for disaster recovery, backups and archiving using the cloud and local storage.   The company feels that the costs of cloud storage will continue to decline, making access to the cloud a commodity market.  The company plans to make its money via its Cloud Controllers, that are part of a Global File System enabling global file locking and that enable collaboration across sites without losing content changes.

Few companies are willing to put all or even most of their valuable active content in the cloud.  It just might not be available when you need it.  But the cloud is very attractive as a disaster recovery site as well as archiving, content delivery and collaboration.  Cloud resources also allow separating operating costs from capital costs and only paying for resources when you use them. Undoubtedly people will use resources in the cloud for more applications as time goes on.  Cloud gateways will serve an important function in using the cloud and for many users are their Gateways to the Cloud.

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