If there's one thing I think we can all agree about cloud computing, it's the fact that it's become a catch-all household term that's used to describe everything from the disaster recovery component of your backup strategy to the place where your MP3s are stored. Analyst group ESG released a market report, titled "Cloud-integrated Storage: Defining and Explaining a New Approach for SMB and Enterprise Storage." The 11-page report makes the case for the importance of this new category of cloud storage as "[having] the primary and/or most active data staying on-site (as a tier or cache) with the cloud used ... for less active data as an easily scalable archive."
This sounds a lot like what we've been referring to as hybrid storage: a local backup appliance, combined with an off-site cloud storage component. My initial thought about CiS is, "Why do we need a new definition when a perfectly adequate one already exists?"
I have to agree with cloud backup vendor TwinStrata's take on this particular issue. In a write-up titled, "Cloud Storage Gateways and Cloud Integrated Storage: Sorting the Terminology," the author states, "This debate about terminology obfuscates [makes unclear] the bigger question [which is]: What should an IT department looking to incorporate cloud into their storage strategy be looking for?"
The article goes on to cite three types of problems businesses are looking to the cloud to help resolve:
1. Growing storage capacity with minimal local footprint. Many businesses are experiencing capacity growth as high as 60% per year, expanding their need for more data center floor space.
2. Replicating storage capacity to the cloud for disaster recovery.
3. Tiering excess capacity to the cloud (e.g. businesses that are required to keep data online for compliance purposes are turning to the cloud and using it as an "overflow valve").
The bottom line is this: Whether you're talking to your customer about a hybrid cloud solution, an advanced gateway solution, or a CiS, the most important thing you need to convey is that your solution can address the pain points outlined above. The last thing you want is for your customer to be confused by a new term and for them to feel like they need to do more research before moving forward with your proposal.