Clustered storage is touted as being able to support a single storage space spanning multiple, widely dispersed data centers (i.e., beyond 100km distances). If this benefit matures as suggested by leading proponents of clustered storage (e.g., low-cost, simple interconnects, open protocols, standard management conventions), then not only will the storage product hierarchy be rewritten, but the mechanisms for sourcing storage capacity will be revolutionized.
In addition to buying storage capacity, options to rent general-purpose storage capacity for a broad class of applications are likely to evolve. Today, these options are limited to applications like mobile PC backup/restore (e.g., Connected, Mozy). Soon, organizations requiring capacity may be able to quickly and seamlessly enfranchise gigabytes from commercial suppliers of clustered storage "hosted services." However, if these services mature, storage administrators will have to learn a host of new sourcing tricks related to capacity renting (e.g., when to rent, how much to rent, what data to put on rented capacity, service levels associated with renting). Networking professionals, who already have mastered many of the sourcing complexities associated with buy/rent decisions, will be a great source of sourcing insight to storage professionals as the market for clustered storage diversifies.
Action Item: To achieve economic scale for clustered storage implementations, both vendors and users of clustered storage infrastructures will explore a variety of go-to market options, including capacity renting. Standards for technology, packaging, privacy, service levels and service offerings will be keys to successful, broad-scale clustered storage markets.