Internap's history is as a managed service and collocation provider, but it has more recently emerged as a cloud player as well. Its AgileFiles cloud storage system is based off of the OpenStack Swift storage platform and is available in the US, Europe and Asia, with plans for future expansion. To differentiate its service, Internap has attempted to layer on advanced networking features to the service, such as a Manager Internet Route Optimizer (MIRO), which analyzes the performance of the possible routes to deliver content and chooses the best one. Gartner says its lack of enterprise presence is the biggest limitation holding the company back.
Behind Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's Windows Azure Blob Storage may be the second most widely-used cloud storage service, Gartner predicts. It now boasts more than a trillion objects and is growing at 200% per year, Gartner says, while supporting a broad range of features including object storage, table storage, SQL Server and a content delivery network (CDN). Azure's Blob storage is in a pricing "race to the bottom," with Amazon, Google and Microsoft each dropping prices consistently during the past year to offer the most competitive prices among the three competitors. Gartner calls Microsoft a "fast-follower" of feature roll outs behind Amazon as well. Its tiered support options are appealing to large enterprise customers, Gartner says, providing customers a hands-on fee-based support team. Microsoft has bulked up its storage chops too by recently purchasing cloud storage gateway vendor StorSimple.
A pure-play cloud storage provider, Nirvanix is solely dedicated to this market. Gartner says that's great for companies looking for data-intensive storage needs, but could be a drawback for customers looking for an all-inclusive vendor that would provide compute services on top of a storage platform. Nirvanix has some appealing characteristics though, including the ability to have public, hybrid or on-premise Nirvanix-powered storage services, and an all-inclusive monthly billing cycle with premium support options, a clear aim for enterprise customers, but one that may turn away SMEs that may prefer the a la carte pricing.
Rackspace is another major player in the cloud storage ecosystem, with its Cloud Files service augmented by a robust set of accompanying services, including compute infrastructure and a CDN network powered by Akamai. For high-performance storage needs, it has Cloud Block Storage, which has high input-output capabilities. Rackspace works heavily on the OpenStack open source project and its services closely follow OpenStack developments. Because of its work in the OpenStack environment, Gartner says Rackspace public cloud storage services integrate nicely with OpenStack-powered on premise clouds, creating hybrid cloud services for customers.
Softlayer's Cloudlayer object storage system is based on the OpenStack Swift platform that accompanies a range of other services offered by Softlayer, including compute and CDN. Softlayer also has a storage-area network (SAN) offering and an international presence, with data centre locations in its headquarters of Dallas, along with Amsterdam and Singapore. Its lack of support and turnkey deployment cycles, Gartner says, has meant that the product has not caught on wildly with the enterprise market yet though.