Storage Soup

May 6 2008   10:54AM GMT

Mosso in the cloud, Monosphere in the dark

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Two small vendors trying to make their way in markets dominated by storage giants made incremental yet interesting offerings this week.  

Mosso, a division of Rackspace,  rolled out a cloud computing platform called the Hosting Cloud in February and followed with the release of MailTrust email hosting. Those first two services are intended for users who run websites. The Hosting Cloud includes storage space, backup, patching and security that developers can execute Web code on top of. MailTrust is meant to provide messaging in that website context.

This week, Mosso disclosed that it will branch out a bit later this year with CloudFS, a cloud-based storage-only service more like Amazon’s S3 than not. As with Amazon’s service, CloudFS will provide a place for users to put files and objects on the Web and will require developers to come up with their own interfaces. According to Mosso’s co-founder Jonathan Bryce, one distinction with CloudFS is that it will have packages of supported coding libraries for each major language including .Net, Java, PHP, Ruby and Python.

The company is “committed to fanatical support” and consistency for developers, according to Bryce, and is hoping that some ISVs will write a hosted online backup interface for it the way they have with S3. Target pricing for the service will be about 15 cents per GB per month, plus bandwidth costs for non-Rackspace customers (existing Rackspace hosting customers pay no bandwidth fees for CloudFS). The service is in private beta now.

Meanwhile, Monosphere launched version 3.7 of its StorageHorizon SRM software. This version will allow customers to make fine-grained maps of their storage capacity against VMware deployment–i.e. “the storage relationships between array LUNs, the ESX server, VMware file systems (VMFS), VMware virtual disks (VMDK), guest OSs, and guest OS file systems/raw devices” according to Monosphere’s press materials.

But what’s really getting some play in the market lately is Monosphere’s claims that it can identify not just resource allocations but actual resource utilization, to a fine degree–identifying “dark” storage, which is free for use but unmapped. Monosphere has been making this claim since at least last year (I remember them talking about it with me in briefings long before this week) but it seems they’re getting more attention for it now. Among the blogs commenting on this “dark” approach to SRM is Jon Toigo’s DrunkenData:

I am not sure whether Monosphere came up with this term, but I like it.  Dark Storage refers to storage that is unmapped, unclaimed or unassigned. I am not sure whether Monosphere came up with this term, but I like it.  Dark Storage refers to storage that is unmapped, unclaimed or unassigned…According to [Monosphere], between 15 and 40 percent of the capacity in the corporate storage infrastructures that they have inspected with their software can be characterized as dark storage.

Could you be sitting on capacity that you didn’t know you had?

Monosphere reports that it’s doing one new installation per week and is looking to make that two in the next few months. Among their claimed customer wins are large companies in networking, insurance, automobiles and business outsourcing, though none of those can be publicly named or interviewed at this point. While there have been some SRM products that have caught on – Novus, for example, which was bought by IBM earlier this year – it’s been a tough market for startups. “Nobody’s making any money on SRM right now,” is what Forrester analyst Andrew Reichman tells me, even though his expertise is SRM. When people do buy SRM, it often comes  their storage hardware vendor. It’s still not clear that even the best independent SRM tools will garner much attention from users – we’ll have to watch Monosphere and see.

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