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Cloud storage providers discovering the value of teamwork

Major cloud buyers are driving vendors to recognize the value of collaboration when building innovative solutions.

Business and competition are a natural pairing, as companies do not often operate and reach success without also working to edge out competitors and gain valuable market share. While traditionally, the server market followed suit, recent reports indicate that in segments tied to technology like cloud server hardware, more providers and vendors are recognizing the value of collaboration as they team up with other large industry players to innovate and change the entire landscape.

GigaOM contributor Jordan Novet recently reported that server upstarts are witnessing growing success, as businesses and server buyers increasingly look to these less established vendors to meet their evolving infrastructure needs. He explained that even the largest server buyers have a growing need for hardware customization, pointing to tech giant Microsoft as an example, which uses more than one million servers. In fact, such massive companies arguably have an even greater need for customized hardware, as the slightest inefficiency in infrastructure design can add up to serious cost issues when dealing with a million pieces of equipment.

Novet explained that this demand for customization and efficiency is leading more server buyers to look to smaller shops that are “more enthusiastic” when it comes to tailoring products for customers. In addition, this trend appears to be picking up steam, causing many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to take notice as they lose business to smaller shops that may not have truly been considered competitors previously. While competition is a key component in a free market economy, however, more cloud storage providers are turning traditional norms on their heads as they embrace their competition, teaming up to bring true innovation to the industry.

The value of the Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance
Novet’s article touched on many points that Seagate had in mind when forming its Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance, made up of many companies that have committed themselves to delivering the latest innovations in IT infrastructure and cloud storage solutions. Furthermore, he specifically mentioned a number of partners, including ZT Systems, Supermicro and the Open Compute Project. As these companies have clearly demonstrated their dedication to peer collaboration, Novet’s report about their notable recent success could be a game changer for the industry.

Supermicro was one company that Novet highlighted, reporting that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider ProfitBricks recently turned to Supermicro for its servers with AMD chips. Pete Johnson, ProfitBricks senior director of platform evangelism told the source that one of the reasons the company decided to ultimately go with Supermicro’s cloud hardware is its use of InfiniBand technology, which he believes distinguishes the company from other providers as the technology allows faster networking and virtualization to the scale of choice.

“That technology could help provide better service than the one-size-fits-all approach in play at Amazon Web Services, or then again IaaS providers could do so by buying more customized server gear through companies historically known as original-design manufacturers (ODMs),” Johnson said, GigaOM reported.

Wally Law, Supermicro’s vice president of international sales, also recently commented on the company’s close partnership with Seagate to develop especially valuable, innovative enterprise storage solutions. Law explained that Seagate’s recently released Terascale hard disk drives (HDDs) demonstrate the Alliance’s commitment to innovation, as these offer high-capacity, scalable cloud storage, lowering the total cost of ownership and leading to substantial power savings.

Novet also highlighted the Open Compute Project, which was started originally by a small team of Facebook engineers in an effort to improve the efficiency and cost of how cloud computing infrastructure is scaled. Novet suggested that many companies have jumped on board with the Open Compute Project because they recognize the value in devising a streamlined server design. Furthermore, the project has inspired many vendors and market players to collaborate on similar initiatives, such as the recent partnership of Riot Games and Hyve Solutions to build their own unique servers.