"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."
And that was the type of thinking that let Henry Ford achieve enormous economies of scale and sell a lot of cars.
It is also the sort of thinking that will drive the adoption of cloud infrastructure, software, and services. How do you achieve economies of scale? How do you lower the cost of a unit of service so that the next one costs you less to provide than the previous one?
Unfortunately, we have not been able to successfully leverage economies of scale in the world of backup and recovery. If it costs you $5 to backup a given amount of data, it probably costs you $50 to back up 10 times that amount of data, and $500 to back up 100 times that amount of data.
And this is true, more or less irrespective of what backup application, technology, or infrastructure that you use.
Which is not good. Which is the 38th reason that backup sucks.
So here is my prediction: the company that figures out how to achieve genuine economies of scale in backup and recovery has the opportunity to become as dominant in backup as Google is in search.
If anybody can figure out how to get costs down to $40 for 10 times the amount of data, and $300 for 100 times the amount of data, they will have an irrefutable advantage over anybody that has not been able to leverage economies of scale.
Why does this matter? Because if my favorite technology evangelist Chuck Hollis is right, and all IT services, applications, and infrastructure end up in the clouds, then scale is going to start to really matter. Everybody that is serious about moving their services into the cloud will have to think about how they are going to back up the data residing in that cloud. (How do you back up 10 PB over a weekend? Some lucky cloud owner or provider is going to have that problem pretty soon.)
And to do that, the successful technology will have to achieve economies of scale. Economies of scale from a financial perspective, and from the perspectives of everything that contributes to the ultimate financial total cost of ownership: management, time, infrastructure, bandwidth, and so on.
That is the challenge of the cloud for those of us who care about backup--how to get those economies of scale.