Spending on cloud infrastructure and services continues to rise. A recently released IHS Technology survey estimated that companies would spend more than $174 billion this year on cloud hardware and software, up 20 percent from the previous year . By 2017, the figure could exceed $235 billion as enterprises explore new approaches to infrastructure.

Buyers are exploring many different technologies to help streamline costs and operations, including software-defined storage and hybrid file sharing services. Seagate's Cloud Builder Alliance partners have been at the forefront of this movement, providing organizations with new options for setting up the most efficient infrastructure possible.

Egnyte's file sharing apps give enterprises security, flexibility in managing data
Some types of data may never be suitable for public cloud storage. For example, in highly regulated industries, it's still important to keep some information on-premises, even as other assets are migrated to remote hosting. In these scenarios, IT and business teams need solutions that allow them to safely manage files behind the company firewall and in other environments. Essentially, they're looking for hybrid cloud storage and management.

A new report from Enterprise Strategy Group found strong interest in hybrid technologies, with 69 percent of respondents stating that they had become interested in keeping some data on-premises after trying out online file sharing services for at least six months. More specifically, they were looking to manage files locally so that they could gain flexibility, leverage existing investments, comply with regulations and depend less on third-party cloud providers.

As a leading player in hybrid file management, Egnyte has seen similar motivations among its own users, reporting that 70 percent of them moved to hybrid after 90 days of deployment. Similarly, two-thirds of Egnyte customer pilots involve hybrid characteristics.

"Egnyte is the only file-sharing solution built from the ground up to meet the needs of the enterprise," said Egnyte co-founder and CSO Kris Lahiri. "As the market evolves, so do the needs of our customers, and nothing is more vital to a business than the security of its most valuable asset – its business data."

Egnyte introduced Storage Connect in 2013, and it provides ways to do on-premises, cloud-only and hybrid management. Going forward, Egnyte plans to add new security features, such as simplified identity management in conjunction with OneLogin and RSA, plus granular auditing of files across all private, public and hybrid environments.

Egnyte's solutions have already been awarded an Enterprise-Ready rating from Skyhigh CloudTrust. Its success in bringing more security and control to complex cloud storage systems demonstrates how growth in enterprise cloud spending is being driven by vendor innovation.

Nexenta opens up new possibilities in software-defined storage
Another Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner, Nexenta, has brought similar benefits to organizations seeking to reimagine cloud infrastructure. A study commissioned by Forrester Consulting found that the company's NexentaStor solution delivered exceptional return on investment to customers.

For instance, NexentaStor lowered connectivity costs by 70 percent by arranging an SSD-accelerated setup so that it could tap into the Network File System. By being more efficient and enabling businesses to forego expensive proprietary hardware, NexentaStor can achieve more than an 80 percent return on investment over the course of three years.

"Adopting SDS and NFS creates opportunities to use nonproprietary hardware and avoids 'built-in' markups from legacy storage providers," stated the authors of the Forrester Consulting study. "The customer estimated that it reduced hardware costs by 70 percent. Not only does this allow the customer to source hardware more competitively, the customer also gets the flexibility to upgrade to the highest-end storage as needed."

These amenities are important at a time when IT budgets are often in flux. Sometimes departments don't know if they'll have enough money to fund their increasingly complex commitments to the cloud. Accordingly, finding any way to save on infrastructure is critical, and vendors such as Nexenta have given customers the opportunities they need to ensure both high storage efficiency and low total cost of ownership.

Nexenta is exhibiting at Cloud Expo Europe in London, Feb. 26-27, where it will show off NexentaStor and NexentaConnect. Many of the cloud hosting providers and other customers planning to attend the event have already attested to Nexenta's distinctive combination of reliability, flexibility and affordability.

Supermicro exhibits embedded server solutions suited to cloud storage
While software is a critical part of building cost-effective, scalable cloud storage, hardware is still important. At the recent Embedded World event in Nuremberg, Germany, Seagate Cloud Builder alliance partner Supermicro unveiled new products based on the Intel Atom system-on-a-chip architecture.

With up to 8 cores and low power draw, the new motherboards are optimized for a variety of use cases, from retail to surveillance. Moreover, their exceptional energy-efficiency makes them suited to tasks such as cold storage that make up an increasingly large share of cloud workloads.

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