The emergence of cloud environments has made feasible the delivery of Internet-scale services by addressing a number of challenges such as live migration, fault tolerance and quality of service. However, current approaches do not tackle key issues related to cloud storage, which are of increasing importance given the enormous amount of data being produced in today's rich digital environment (e.g. by smart phones, social networks, sensors, user generated content). In this paper we present the architecture of a scalable and flexible cloud environment addressing the challenge of providing data-intensive storage cloud services through raising the abstraction level of storage, enabling data mobility across providers, allowing computational and content-centric access to storage and deploying new data-oriented mechanisms for QoS and security guarantees. We also demonstrate the added value and effectiveness of the proposed architecture through two real-life application scenarios from the healthcare and media domains. © 2011 IEEE.