Data storage company EMC on Monday took the covers off its ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage) Appliance at EMC World 2014 in Las Vegas. Formerly known as Project Nile, the company is positioning its latest product as a breakthrough in hyper-scale cloud storage infrastructure that spans customers of any size in every industry -- and aiming squarely at Google and Amazon.
EMC is answering what it sees as an industry need: The so-called “third platform of IT” -- social, mobile, cloud and big data -- is creating new opportunities and competitive threats for large enterprises and small businesses alike. Next-generation apps are delivering seamless experiences for customers to interact and transact, which EMC said demands new storage infrastructure to leverage the analytics these big data apps generate. Of course, the company believes the ECS Appliance is the answer.
Amitabh Srivastava, president, EMC’s Advanced Software Division, called it a “highly intelligent, easy-to-manage storage platform based on commodity hardware.” He described the ECS Appliance as offering public cloud security and private cloud control to pave the way for easier development of apps for the third platform of IT.
An Alternative Approach
Not only is Srivastava confident in the appliance’s benefits, he’s offering numbers to prove the financial advantages. According to EMC, the new appliance offers between 9 percent and 28 percent lower TCO (total cost of ownership) in object storage implementations than public clouds from Amazon and Google. Neither Amazon nor Google could immediately be reached for comment.
What’s more, the ECS Appliance allows customers to add hyperscale cloud capabilities to existing private and hybrid cloud environments with self-service options and automated provisioning and data services for apps. EMC said its ECS Appliance is modular -- with up to 2.9 petabytes in a single rack -- and can be clustered to meet the exabyte scale requirements of the third platform of IT.
"Our research tells us that mid-sized to large organizations are increasingly looking to leverage the cost and scale benefits of public cloud models, but on their own terms,” said Simon Robinson, research vice president at market research firm 451 Research. “With the announcement of the ECS Appliance, EMC is providing an alternative approach that promises to bring hyper-scale efficiencies to on-premise and hybrid cloud deployments. We believe this kind of approach represents the future of storage infrastructure for cloud-based applications and workloads."
TCO Is Relative
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, a principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on the ECS Appliance's TCO claims. He told us proving the TCO of cloud is very difficult because costs ultimately depend on what the organization needs to accomplish.
“If you are really concerned about security and control then there’s no doubt in my mind that a private cloud service would be cheaper because management costs are pretty high,” Kerravala said. “If you are just storing commodity, non-mission critical data then public cloud storage would still be cheaper.”
In his own research among enterprises conducted earlier this year, 18 percent preferred the public cloud, 23 percent said private cloud, and 60 percent preferred the hybrid cloud for infrastructure services.
“The TCO number really depends on use cases. Customers need to start thinking about the cloud in terms of workloads and what they are trying to accomplish,” Kerravala said. “This shouldn’t be a cost issue. It should be about whatever solves the business problem best.”