I immediately went to check blogs from Chuck Hollis and Dave Hitz to see if they had anything to say on the topic. They didn't. Why? Because it is silly. First of all it's a term....nothing more. Journalists and marketing geeks like nothing more than to coin a term to spin the hype machine and see who will pay attention. Storage Service Provider (SSP), SAAS (Storage as a Service), storage cloud, Managed Storage Service....whatever. It is all just 1's and 0's on platters.
Reading the article took me back a bit, as a number of years ago I was a part of a dot-com company that offered online storage. We were like the rest of the dot-coms and offered 1gb, 5gb and 10gb plans, and then had a backup tool that would take your data directly to your online account. We ran the site for many years, and I always remember looking to one company as 'the' big dog of the industry. Storage Networks was the SSP of the time and (I think) had grown quite a large business. They took the enterprise side of the market, while sites like idrive, xdrive, swapdrive and others took the consumer side. Take a look to see what Storage Networks site looked like in 2000.
Today, we have Amazon's S3. I'm still amazed at this offering and almost equally amazed that it hasn't caught on more than it has. I was trying to think if S3 had any real competition and the only thing I could come up with is an equally intriguing offering from Cleversafe. It is fun to see how people are using S3 though. Check out this article about Stardust@home:
The Stardust@home project uses the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store and deliver the tens of million of images that represent the data collected from the dust particle aerogel experiment.
Anyway....back to the SSP model. The model is an enterprise one. I really believe that S3 and other online storage services that have survived can only truly cater to home/office users, small companies and some aspects of the hosting world. Enterprise customers want their data close to them and want to know it is managed, protected and monitored at all times. Regulations and data leakage incidents have ensured that enterprise storage is on a short leash at all times.
I do believe that managed storage services (see - even I can't stop from using IT lingo) have a place for some. Inside the data center, or between trusted parties and elaborate SLA and other agreements, it would potentially be beneficial to let someone else manage the scalability, reliability and a few other 'ilities of your storage. If nothing else, perhaps the consumer side of the market will help to push down some of the insane prices that the enterprise players push. Maybe a colo or integrator could offer a pay-for-what-you-use model to the SMB market and see if it flies.