The cloud market exploded in 2013, and there are no signs of this momentum slowing down. IDC predicts that the cloud will drive $100 billion worth of spending in 2014, up 25% over 2013. The growth comes from more and more companies buying into the idea that storing large amounts of data in the cloud will save time and money, and also mitigate the increasing difficulty of managing large volumes of data in physical servers.
As we’ve seen, smaller cloud providers like Nirvanix struggled to keep up, with cloud storage becoming increasingly commoditized and large providers like Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure dominating the market. In 2014, look for smaller providers to make efforts to differentiate their cloud storage offering. By focusing on personalization, localization, and providing customers with more than just a pure-play “cloud storage” option, smaller providers will thrive in 2014.
Here are four examples of how cloud providers will differentiate their offerings against cloud giants like Amazon or Microsoft:
I believe we’ll see more cloud service providers focusing on offering “backup-as-a-service.” With an expanded portfolio of offerings, these service providers will be able to compete against global companies like Amazon by offering more customized, flexible storage options that suit the unique needs of an individual business. Expect to hear vendors refer to their offerings as “hosted” or “managed” services, as we move into this new era in the market.
A Focus on Local
Additionally, smaller service providers will focus on local, in-country storage options. These local service options will become an increasingly important differentiator for customers who worry about the security of their data in the hands of foreign governments — in the wake of high profile security breaches like PRISM. Service providers will place more emphasis on the strength of their security and compliance measures, highlighting their expertise in managing specific country and/or industry specific regulations, to stand-out and compete against global players like Google or Amazon.
The Definition of “Cloud”
Over the past few years, “cloud” has been used as a blanket term to describe various activities within ITaaS, virtualization, mobile access — ultimately rendering the word meaningless. Confronting this blurred image and confusion about the cloud, we’ll see vendors move away from focusing on the word “cloud” only and begin to define their individual tools and services with more specific terms in order to highlight how and why their offering is competitive in this increasingly crowded market. Increasing customer concerns about security in the cloud will also contribute to the evolving way we define the cloud, and how exactly it operates.
The New Role of IT
As cloud services evolve and change, I believe we’ll see providers introduce increasingly user-friendly cloud storage services. New technologies will empower end users to self-manage their IT needs in easier ways than ever before – allowing IT departments to fundamentally change their role within a company. While IT departments today often serve as a “help desk,” their role will soon evolve into that of specialized technology service buyers, evaluating what exactly a company needs, and how and where they should get it.
As momentum continues to grow in the cloud storage market, we’ll see smaller providers introduce new innovations and services to differentiate themselves against large, global providers in 2014.
About the Author: Rene Oldenbeuving – General Manager, Cloud Business at Acronis. Rene leads strategic management of Acronis’ Business Unit of cloud solutions for data backup, storage and disaster recovery. He joined Acronis in July 2013, and played a key role in the launch of Acronis Storage, Acronis’ software-defined storage solution for archiving large volumes of data. With his team he will launch several solutions and services concerning Backup-as-a-Service hosted or powered by Acronis. Rene is frequently quoted in leading industry publications, and has spoken at top industry events including VMWorld, World Hosting Days and Cloud Expo. Prior to joining Acronis, Rene served as the Managing Director of IASO Backup International, and was actively involved as a shareholder and executive for Avensus ICT.