Although the cloud evolved in part from virtualization initiatives that reduced the role of PCs and physical servers, many cloud computing services are still highly dependent upon hardware. Appliances often use enormous amounts of power to manage storage, computing and networking, and because enterprises have architected much of their IT infrastructure around these machines, they have struggled to create more cost-effective and functional clouds.
The recent announcement of Seagate's Kinetic Open Storage heralds a change on the hardware front. By using Ethernet for storage handling on hard drives, KOS permits companies to create data center racks that are denser, more energy-efficient and simpler to manage.
Midsize Insider contributor Rick Robinson highlighted how this new technology would heighten the importance of software. More specifically, having tools that can manage cloud-related resources while leveraging open APIs will be key to the success of modern storage setups. Ultimately, utilizing networks and software to improve cloud infrastructure may improve performance and lower costs.
"For most IT work teams at midsize firms, the change in underlying storage will be invisible if it happens at all; this, after all, is the point of the cloud," wrote Robinson. "For midsize IT that is tapping into remote cloud storage, the effects will be seen in faster, more capable and cheaper cloud resources. Managers and professionals on these teams will not need to be concerned with storage details."
With storage hardware and software services from leading providers, enterprises will be able to build highly customized cloud solutions. The next generation of cloud architecture may be less aligned with popular conception of the cloud as a collection of purely remote services. Writing for Forbes, SunGardAS's Simon Withers argued that companies should carefully evaluate their workloads and strike a balance between virtualized and cloud-based services. Standard-based hardware and open source software gives them the ability to do so.