EMC Atmos Online goes offline, other cloud storage providers look to step up

EMC Atmos partner Hosted Solutions launched its backup storage service days before EMC decided to dump its Atmos Online service; EMC hopes to line up other service providers.

EMC Corp.'s decision to sell its Atmos cloud storage service solely through service providers instead of setting up its own service comes as good news for its service provider partners. The timing couldn't be better for one partner, Hosted Solutions, which launched its Atmos-based backup service last week just days before EMC made its decision public on its website.

Hosted Solutions' Stratus Cloud Storage is one of three Atmos-based commercial services so far, along with AT&T's Synaptic Storage as a Service and Peer 1 Hosting's CloudOne Storage. Hosted Solutions has Atmos frames in two of its five data centers – in Boston and Raleigh, N.C. – and replicates data between the two SAS-70 Type II sites. Customers access data through TwinStrata Cloud Array appliances.

Robb Bryn, VP of operations at Wilmington, NC-based Cape Fear WebMasters, Inc., says his company signed up for Stratus Cloud Storage's backup service while in beta two months ago after using Hosted Solutions' colocation site for about four years. Bryn says Cape Fear outgrew its 2.5 TB Dell PowerVault direct attached storage system, and he considered upgrading to a larger DAS box or a Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN before deciding it would be less expensive and easier use the cloud. He signed up for 5 TB – doubling his storage capacity with the ability to easily expand.

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Bryn said he wasn't aware of the Atmos underlying architecture behind the Stratus REST-based service, which also leverages technology from Cisco, Juniper Networks, and F5 Networks.

"I don't know much difference between EMC and anybody else who might be out there," he said. "I just know [Stratus Cloud Storage] was easy to implement, and the price was right. Terabyte-for-terabyte and dollar-for- dollar, it made sense. The other part of it for us was expandability. If I put a SAN or larger DAS in there, I'd just end up buying more in a few months."

Bryn said he doesn't completely rely on Hosted Solutions for security. He encrypts his backup files up with Symantec Corp.'s Backup Exec before sending them over the wire. "I know any data that crosses the wire is encrypted," he said. "We've worked with Hosted Solutions before, so we're not worried about the data they host. We don't keep any sensitive data on their storage anyway."

Pricing for Stratus Cloud Storage starts at 30 cents per GB. Hosted Solutions VP of Technology Jeff Kramer says it's a "high touch" service because it includes consulting. "We're trusted advisers to our customers," he said.

EMC's Atmos Online was a "no-touch" service in some cases. A storage administrator for a health care company who asked not to be identified said he was offered trial space for the online service after purchasing Atmos for a private cloud. He said he never used the online service, however, because his organization mostly uses the file system interface and that wasn't available for Atmos Online.

In an email statement to SearchStorage, Jon Martin, director of product management at EMC's Cloud Infrastructure Group., wrote that the vendor is focusing on adding and supporting Atmos service provider partners.

"As the number of service providers adopting EMC Atmos technology continues to expand, EMC decided not to announce the general availability of the Atmos Online storage service for production usage," Martin wrote. "The strength of the Atmos ecosystem is predominantly based on the service providers who deliver Atmos-based services and ISVs who integrate with the technology. EMC will focus on evolving this ecosystem and allow Atmos Online to take a supporting role. Customers looking to move to production are encouraged to use one of the Atmos-based service providers using the same leading technology for their production requirements. We have worked with customers to make transitions as seamless and secure as possible."

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