Cerner and IBM Send Industry Message that Nirvanix is How Enterprise Cloud Storage Will Be Done

Anyone who still doubts that Nirvanix is poised to deliver the same type of solution for cloud storage that VMware already delivers for cloud computing got a serious wake-up call this past week. Announcements that both Cerner and IBM entered into strategic relationships with Nirvanix are more than just validations of Nirvanix’s cloud storage technology. They signal that Nirvanix is poised to become how enterprises of all sizes will eventually implement cloud storage.

There are seminal points in the adoption of any game-changing technology. This happened in late 2003 when EMC acquired VMware and then proceeded to introduce it into its enterprise accounts. In so doing EMC almost single-handedly transformed VMware vSphere from a compelling technology into one that enterprises felt they could begin to safely run their business and mission critical applications on.

Something similar occurred this past week in the maturation of cloud storage space. While no acquisitions have yet occurred, what may be a precursor to such an acquisition occurring is IBM’s announcement that it has formally entered into a strategic five year OEM relationship with Nirvanix.  This should give the entire industry – vendors, VARs and enterprise organizations – pause for a number of reasons.

First, embedded in the first paragraph of that announcement is IBM’s intent to integrate cloud storage technology from Nirvanix as part of an expanded IBM SmartCloud Enterprise storage services portfolio.

The term integration suggests that this is much more than just IBM offering Nirvanix to pass the time until a better cloud storage comes along. It implies that this is THE cloud storage solution that IBM wants and that now is the time for IBM to bet its global cloud storage strategy on Nirvanix’s cloud storage solution.

Making this announcement more interesting is that Dan Galvan, IBM’s VP Storage Systems Marketing and Strategy and who is responsible for marketing IBM SONAS (an IBM scale-out storage solution that competes with Nirvanix at the private cloud level) refused to comment on this announcement when asked about it at the Fall Storage Networking World (SNW) 2011 conference. This refusal suggests that at higher levels within IBM that IBM is placing a premium on being a cloud storage provider even over selling its own cloud storage solutions.

Second, these announcements on consecutive days from Cerner and IBM about their decision to offer Nirvanix cloud storage instead of either their own solution or solutions from other vendors indicate that:

  1. A change is occurring in how the clients of Cerner and IBM are asking them to deliver storage
  2. Nirvanix offers cloud storage that meets the demands of how the clients of Cerner and IBM want it delivered: by the GB

Their clients only want to pay for the amount of storage they use, not pay for a bunch of storage capacity up front in anticipation of eventually using it. Even IBM’s Galvan at the Fall SNW 2011 went so far as to say that IBM’s clients are “sick of cloud washing.” They do not want today’s existing storage solutions repackaged under the guise of “cloud storage.” They instead want real cloud storage solutions that are “storage capacity in the cloud” not “storage capacity in a box.”

So is it any real surprise that Cerner and IBM have to look beyond current storage solutions to find a cloud storage solution that better aligns with how their customers are defining “cloud storage?” Cerner and IBM are both smart, profit-driven companies and they know their customers are no longer buffaloed by cloud storage terminology. They want a cloud storage solution that:

  • Automatically distributes data across multiple geographic sites and regions so it is protected
  • Dynamically scales up (or down)
  • Is configurable as either a private or public cloud (or both)
  • Metered billing
  • Multi-tenancy to securely store data from multiple clients on the same physical platform
  • No up-front capital investment to get started
  • Offers “Pay by the drink” (only pay for what you use)
  • Provides enterprise level support
  • Puts data on the right tier of storage according to its usage
  • Scales to handle petabytes of storage capacity

So when Cerner and IBM look at what their clients want and what storage providers have to offer, Nirvanix is the solution that best aligns with this diverse set of customer requirements.

But possibly the biggest implication coming out of Nirvanix’s announcements with Cerner and IBM is that cloud storage as a whole overcomes a larger perception problem: that it is not enterprise ready. By both Cerner and IBM selecting Nirvanix as the cloud storage solution that they will deliver to their enterprise customer base, cloud storage as a whole gets the validation it needed from two enterprise level service providers with Nirvanix being the sole beneficiary of this validation.

As DCIG knows from the regular conversations it has with end-users, they do want great technology. But they also want a great company with an established reputation to deliver it so if things go south (and things inevitably go south at some point) that there is someone reputable to call upon anytime day or night to fix it and make things right. So while Nirvanix’s cloud storage technology is sound, Nirvanix does not have the same reputation as either Cerner does in the health care industry or IBM does globally.

So by Cerner and IBM both offering Nirvanix’s cloud storage technology and putting their name behind it, their customers have more confidence to move ahead with cloud storage in general and Nirvanix specifically without lingering questions about how it will be supported. They know it will be supported in the same manner as other products that they currently use from these two companies.

In much the same way the future of enterprise cloud computing got a boost when EMC acquired VMware, the future of what enterprise cloud storage will look like got a big boost this week with both Cerner and IBM announcing that they will deliver Nirvanix as their enterprise storage cloud offering. In so doing, enterprise organizations get more than a message that cloud storage is now a viable option for them. They just got a strong message from Cerner and IBM that Nirvanix is the means by which they can confidently implement it.

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Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Founder of DCIG, LLC Jerome Wendt is the President and Founder of DCIG, LLC., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in November 2007.

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