Bitcasa CEO Tony Gauda hopes to lure consumers with the promise of unlimited cloud data for $10 per month. He said Bitcasa already stores more than a billion files and 4 PB of data on Amazon S3 from its private beta customers. The plan is for Bitcasa to eventually host its own cloud, Gauda said.
Within six months, Gauda hopes to have an SMB version that will likely be priced on a per seat basis.
“Today we are consumer-oriented,” he said. “But there’s a huge SMB enterprise play in our technology.”
Gauda said Bitcasa can serve as primary storage as well as backup and archiving. Bitcasa software integrates into the operating system on any computer running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. The user clicks on a folder to make it “infinite.” Data written to the folder will go to the cloud but appear as if it is local on the device. Bitcasa compresses, deduplicates and encrypts data before sending to the cloud. It also caches frequently accessed files locally.
Installing in the OS might scare some people, but Gauda said it is necessary.
“Bitcasa intercepts OS calls and looks like a hard disk to the OS or applications running on that device,” Gauda said. “From a user perspective it’s transparent, that’s why we had to be in the OS.”
Does the world really need another cloud file storage service? Gauda is counting on it, because most of the services today don’t handle primary data.
“This is your primary copy – it’s always available, you can access it through clients installed,” he said.“Just use Explorer, go to where the folder usually is, and the data looks like it’s already there. Even without internet connectivity, you have access to data you use on regular basis because it’s cached.”
Bitcasa’s funding came from Pelion Venture Partners and Horizons Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, CrunchFund, and Samsung Ventures.]]>
Burton called up XtremIO’s product manager VP Josh Goldstein for a quick demo of what EMC is calling Project X – XtremIO’s all-flash array. Goldstein showed how the flash array scales out by adding nodes for “unlimited IOPS,” said it takes only 20 seconds to provision 1 PB of data, and claims a single node can produce 150,000 write IOPS and more than 300,000 read IOPS. He said it can handle a mixed load of reads and writes at 180,000 IOPS. Goldstein said the product is made up of commodity components to keep the price down. EMC execs say Project X is entering pre-beta deployments and will not be generally available until next year.
Project Thunder is an appliance with up to 10 1 TB flash cards and connects to servers through 40-Gigabit Ethernet or InfiniBand switches. Dan Cobb, CTO of EMC’s flash, gave a brief demo on stage and strongly hinted that Thunder will be shipping by the end of the year. “[EMC COO] Pat Gelsiner would like an early Christmas present, and he seems like he’s the kind of guy who gets what he wants,” Cobb said. …
Even with Projects Thunder and X, EMC expects most flash implementations in the near future to be the addition of SSDs to hard drive arrays. Or, as the president of EMC’s unified storage division Rich Napolitano put it, “A little flash goes a long way.”
Napolitano said if a storage array has five percent of flash, that flash can handle 70% to 80% of all IOPS. He also said more than 60% of EMC’s midrange storage systems now include flash, and claimed that all-flash systems are too costly for midrange systems. “Ninety percent of use cases will be covered with a hybrid array,” he said. “The challenge with all-flash arrays is, if they’re not hybrid, they just can’t hit the cost point for the midrange.” …
Syncplicity customers hoping that EMC will improve the online file-sharing service’s enterprise features might get their wish. Jeetu Patel, chief strategy officer for EMC’s information intelligence group, said there are plans to add enterprise features.
“We looked at many products in this space and found that Syncplicity was the best at providing a simpler user experience with the richest set of security, policy and management controls for IT,” Patel said. “It is already enterprise-strength and we have numerous exciting enhancements planned.”
Patel said recent customer surveys indicated more than 80% want an enterprise solution for syncing and sharing files. “It is critical that our solution breaks down the barriers between operating systems, devices, and business apps to allow data to reside everywhere users need it,” he said.
Patel said there are no pricing changes for Syncplicity planned “at this time.” …
EMC CEO Joe Tucci said the vendor will continue to split its product development resources between internal development and acquisitions. He said EMC spends about $2 billion a year each on R&D and M&A.
“We never comment on what technology areas we’re interested in acquiring, that only ends up working against us,” he said during a Monday press conference. “We will do multiple acquisitions a year. XtremIO will not be the last one we’ll do this year.”
He was proved correct on that last claim hours later when EMC announced it acquired Syncplicity. …
Facebook is in the news for other reasons these days, but the social media giant may have set a record for the largest storage purchase in history earlier this year. Computer Weekly’s Jennifer Scott reports Facebook is the customer EMC CFO David Goulden referred to during the company’s earnings call last month when he said a web company bought 28 PB of Isilon storage. “We believe it was the largest capacity single-order in the history of storage,” Goulden said. EMC execs have refused to publicly name the customer. …
A representative for cloud service provider Nirvanix claims EMC’s Atmos upgrades this week shows the vendor still doesn’t understand the cloud storage concept. Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix’s VP of marketing, dashed off an email mocking EMC for thinking speed enhancements to its Atmos object-storage platform will help customers who want cloud storage.
Zivanic wrote the Atmos upgrade shows that EMC still views storage as a product instead of a service. “When it’s a storage product, the risk is all on the buyer,” Zivanic wrote. “When it’s a service, the risk is on the seller. Atmos is still a product customers have to buy and manage and operate and maintain, versus a cloud service they can simply access as required.”
Zivanic wrote that customers have to pay up to millions of dollars to build private clouds using EMC technology, and its talk of hybrid clouds is hollow because the vendor has no public cloud of its own. That means it cannot enforce SLAs and security policies between a private and public cloud in a hybrid setup.
“EMC is still stuck in the old paradigm,” he wrote. “Once a customer uploads data to the cloud, it’s the last data migration they’ll ever do. That’s the new paradigm that EMC refuses to fundamentally embrace. It doesn’t matter how much faster Atmos is, EMC is still fighting the disruptive change that cloud storage represents.”]]>
Google Drive will almost certainly add to the consumerization of IT that Randy Kerns recently wrote about because it will expand the number of users functioning as their own storage administrators. And the attention it has already sparked will make it more likely that most businesses will at least consider using the cloud for some of its file storage and data protection.
“On the face of it, this topic does not appear to concern the corporate IT manager or CIO, but chances are employees will start using this service to do more than share family photos and recipes,” Ovum principal analyst Richard Edwards wrote in an e-mail about Google Drive’s impact on the enterprise. “Corporate email systems are notorious for their measly storage quotas and message attachment size limitations, and so the sharing and distribution of large corporate files, such as PowerPoint presentations, engineering drawings, and creative content are an obvious use case for Google Drive.”
Edwards said Ovum recommends what he calls “business-grade” cloud collaboration services such as Box and Huddle because of their superior feature management and administration capabilities. Google Drive is seen as a prime competitor to these services as well as other popular file sharing clouds from Citrix, Dropbox, Egnyte, Nomadix, SpiderOak, SugarSync and Syncplicity.
Andres Roldriguez, CEO of cloud NAS vendor Nasuni, said Google Drive can go beyond the file sharing services already on the market because it controls the application stack and a mobile operating system. And while he doesn’t see Google Drive as a competitor to enterprise storage vendors, he does warn that enterprise vendors need to address data on mobile devices in a hurry.
“File storage and synchronization engines are changing storage as we know it,” Rodriguez wrote in an email. “Any large storage vendor that isn’t thinking about how to extend its current data center offerings to mobile is going to be unpleasantly surprised in the next 24 months as more workers shift to accessing data from tablets and smart phones. The pressure on IT is already intense. The control points for much corporate storage today are the Domain Controller (DC) and the CIFS protocol. No one wants to re-architect access control because of mobile users. What we need to figure out is how to extend the access control model we have today to include the new platforms.”
Ranajit Nevatia, VP of marketing for Nasuni rival Panzura, says Google Drive is a long way from becoming an enterprise service because adding features such as global namespace, file locking and enterprise encryption is “damn hard.” He said there is a big difference between file sharing and project sharing, which is what enterprise storage must support.
“Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, iDrive, these are becoming a dime a dozen now,” Nevatia said. “Everybody’s coming up with file sharing with free amounts of storage associated with them. When you look at the target market and use cases they’re going after, it’s not overlapping with what we’re doing. It will put pressure on consumer level file sharing services, but it’s not meant for large enterprises. Our customers collaborate on projects like architectural engineer design or handle large amounts of research data. We’re not talking about two gigabytes or five gigabytes. We’re talking terabytes of data.”
Tom Gelson, Imation’s director of business development and its cloud strategist, said he has mixed reactions about Google’s entry into cloud storage. Imation’s data protection appliances are used by cloud providers and Gelson said the vendor plans on launching its own cloud service. And as an SMB vendor, that would make it a Google competitor. But Gelson agrees with Nevatia about the need for security in the cloud.
“Google rubber stamps cloud backup, because everybody knows Google,” he said. “It’s exciting, but we’re all concerned. Imation is focused on SMBs and if you talk to an SMB IT director, the biggest concern is security. That’s Imation’s biggest focus. We want to make sure data is secure once it sits on the cloud.”
Gelson pointed out Imation acquired three security companies in 2011-– Encryptx, MXI and Iron Key. He said Imation encrypts data in flight to the cloud, and also encrypts data on its RDX removable hard drive media.
Ethan Oberman, CEO of online file sharing company SpiderOak, brings up another potential sore spot for Google – privacy. Oberman wonders if Google will try to integrate Google Drive with Google Plus and if it will record users’ activities.
“Google has definitely been one of the more innovative companies since its inception, so the market will have high expectations for how Google Drive might change the way we work within the cloud,” said Oberman wrote in an e-mail statement. “There is obviously a very fine line between harvesting consumer data across Google platforms for a ‘richer experience’ versus the potential reality that every step we take on Google’s turf is recorded and analyzed. How Google addresses the 800-pound gorilla knocking on the door – privacy – will define how the company is widely perceived by the public. Google Drive will be a key part of this test.”]]>
Symform is calling it an $11 million B round, but only $8 million is in hand. CEO Matthew Schiltz said he expects the other $3 million to come from a strategic partner. He said he’s still talking to possible partners, but expects the deal to include a business development deal as well as funding. When Schiltz was CEO of DocuSign, he secured a business development/strategic funding deal with Salesforce.com.
“We will be doing something similar this year,” he said of his plans for Symform.
Symform president and founder Praerit Garg describes his company’s Global Cloud Storage Network as “a giant RAID system over the Internet. It’s a distributed, decentralized cloud that’s more secure and reliable than a data center. People contribute part of their disks and we aggregate storage across these disks over the internet.”
Garg said the data is encrypted before it leaves customers’ computers. The encrypted data is striped over 96 disks – “we call it RAID 96” – and 32 of the fragments are redundant. That means data can be reconstructed even if 32 fragments are lost.
“We encrypt data, chop it up and geo-spread it,” Schiltz said. “We have our own cloud-controlled brain that manages the peer-to-peer network. We don’t have to build a massive data center to store massive amounts of data.”
Symform software comes preconfigured on QNAP NAS devices, and Schiltz said the startup has about 500 resellers for its cloud. QNAP customers pay $20 per month per bay for the Symform cloud if they contribute space from their device.
Customers who download Symform software on their computers get 10 GB of free cloud storage to begin with. They get another GB free for every GB they give up on their hard drive, up to 200 GB. Beyond 200 GB, Symform charges a subscription fee starting at $3.50 per month for an end-user license and $50 per month for a server license.
Symform also has a partnership with SMB backup software vendor StorageCraft for a Business Continuity Suite service that offers rapid data recovery.
Besides its venture funding – new investor WestRiver Capital led the B round with participation from previous investors OVP and and Longworth Venture Partners – Symform also launched an advisory board. That board consists of Quantum CEO Jon Gacek, DocuSign VP of Engineering Grant Peterson, and Dimitris Achilopta, professor of computer science at the University of Cal-Santa Cruz.]]>
Despite a seven percent revenue growth to $3.7 billion for information storage products last quarter, EMC CFO Dave Goulden said during the vendor’s earnings call that it struggled to meet demand for high-capacity hard drives. Goulden said the drive shortage caused by Thailand floods last year is improving, but EMC will keep its 5 percent to 15 percent price increases at least into late 2012.
“There were and still are constraints in nearline drives,” he said. “We got the drives we needed to make our numbers, but nearline drives came in late and we had to do some balancing to meet supply and demand. There will be constraints in certain classes of drives the entire year.”
Goulden said he doesn’t think the drive shortage cost EMC any customers because “everbyody’s in the same boat when it comes to drive availability.”
His comments were in line with Seagate’s claims during its earnings call earlier in the week that the shortage has eased for some drive types, but high-capacity nearline drives are still restricted.
Despite its revenue growth last quarter, EMC’s high-end storage declined 10 percent from last year. EMC execs said that was largely due to an unusually strong first quarter in 2011, but EMC CEO Joe Tucci agreed with an analyst who asked if it might also be caused by customers waiting for a VMAX product refresh.
Pointing out the current VMAX platform launched three years ago, Tucci said, “our customers are expecting a new high-end product. We don’t want to ruin our announcement, but customers expecting that will not be disappointed. It’s coming soon.”
Tucci also said more details on Project Thunder will be disclosed at EMC World next month, and it will go into beta over the next few months. EMC COO Pat Gelsinger added that he considers the Project Thunder shared storage appliance more lucrative then the VFCache “Project Lightning” host-based PCIe flash card launched earlier this year, because Project Thunder is more in line with EMC’s storage background.
“A Thunder-like appliance is an easier product for the EMC sales force,” he said. “There is a lot of interest for the Thunder appliance in many use cases. We’ve accelerated our internal activities for VFCache, Thunder, the use of MLC [multi-level cache], and hybrid arrays. A large majority of the industry will be hybrid arrays for the long term.”
Tucci added that EMC is committed to all types of flash – including solid-state drives (SSDs) in storage arrays, 100 percent flash arrays, and hybrid arrays – as well as Fibre Channel and SATA hard drives. “For sure, information storage is not a one-size-fits-all world,” he said.
Tucci also addressed another favorite EMC topic, the cloud. He said private clouds will be the most popular type of cloud for a long time, but “we believe the world [eventually] is going to be hybrid. Customers are working on virtualizing and private cloudizing tier one applications in significant numbers. That’s where the action is. But when customers get to peak times they’ll push some apps out to the public cloud so they don’t have to buy capacity for peak times.”
Other tidbits from the EMC call:
• Isilon revenue nearly doubled from last year, with the help of a 28 PB purchase from a web company.
• VNX unified storage systems has brought EMC nearly 6,000 new customers since it launched in early 2011.
• Revenue from midrange products (VNX, Data Domain, Avamar, Isilon) grew 26% year over year.
According to the vendor, Riak CS lets customers store and retrieve content up to 5 GB per object, is compatible with the Amazon S3 API, has multi-tenancy features, and reports on per-tenant usage data and statistics on network I/O. Pricing for Riak CS starts at $10,000 per hardware node, which comes to about 40 cents per GB for a 24 TB node.
Riak CS is Basho’s second software application. Its Riak NoSQL database is based on principles outlined in the 2007 Amazon Dynamo white paper. While Riak is an open source application, Riak CS is not. Basho added multi-tenancy, S3 API compatibility, large object support and per tenant usage, billing and metering to Riak CS to make it a cloud application.
“We look at ourselves as an arms dealer of Amazon principles [outlined in the 2007 Amazon Dynamo distributed white paper],” Basho CMO Bobby Patrick said. “Riak CS is for large service providers looking for scalability and tenancy, and also large companies that want S3 without AWS [Amazon Web Services]. This is S3-compatible, but for a private cloud.”
He said several large multinational companies are evaluating Riak CS as a method of keeping important data in-house behind a firewall.
Riak CS is built to run on commodity hardware. Patrick said it will compete mainly with OpenStack Swift object storage, but it will also come into competition from EMC’s Atmos and software from smaller vendors such as Scality Ring and Gemini Mobile Cloudian.
“Any hosting company, any telecom company, any infrastructure-as-a-service company, is going to have to evolve from expensive shared storage to cloud storage for economic scale benefits,” Patrick said. “A new architecture is needed for that. They need to do it on cheap commodity hardware and in a way they can manage it.”]]>
Probably not, if you’re sane. But maybe you do if you have data in the cloud and think you might want to switch one day for performance or pricing reasons. And you definitely do if you’re a cloud storage vendor that promises service levels that might require non-disruptive cloud-to-cloud migration.
Nasuni fits in that last category, so the vendor conducted extensive testing of what it considers the top three cloud providers based on the stress testing it conducted last year. The latest results are entered in its Bulk Data Migration in the Cloud report issued today.
In case you were wondering, here’s how long Nasuni estimates it would take to migrate a 12 TB volume:
• Amazon S3 to another Amazon S3 bucket: Four hours
• Amazon S3 to Microsoft Windows Azure: 40 hours
• Amazon S3 to Rackspace: Just under one week
• Microsoft Windows Azure to Amazon S3: Four hours
• Rackspace to Amazon S3: Five hours
Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez said transmission speeds vary depending on time of day, but the biggest difference is the cloud providers’ write capabilities because S3 had by far the best transfer times.
Nasuni determines the best back-end cloud for its customers, and usually selects S3 with Azure as the second choice. Nasuni’s competitors sell storage appliances and let customers pick their cloud provider, but Rodriguez said Nasuni picks the cloud provider to meet its SLAs.
“Our enterprise customers using storage in their data centers let Nasuni be the one to move data,” he said. “All customers want from Nasuni is storage service. They don’t care about which cloud it’s unless they want data in a specific geographic location. But that’s a location issue, not a provider issue.”
That means Nasuni customers can’t decide to switch providers based on pricing changes, but Rodriguez said he doesn’t recommend that practice.
“This is not an operation you want to be doing dynamically daily so you can save a few cents here and there,” he said. “You do it to take advantage of better features and performance.”]]>
“Windows Azure Storage was not impacted by this issue.”
That doesn’t mean cloud storage won’t be impacted in the future, though. A high-profile cloud outage will have people thinking twice about moving important data to the cloud.
“Every time one of these things happens, the umbrella of the cloud gets tarnished,” said Andres Rodriguez, CEO of cloud NAS vendor Nasuni. “It hurts. Our customers know what they have, it’s the prospects that I’m worried about. Our sales guys get many more questions in the field because of it.”
Nasuni stores its customers’ data on Azure and Amazon S3 clouds. Amazon’s compute cloud, you may remember, had two outages last year. Cloud outages are one reason Nasuni bills its hardware and software NAS appliances a storage services systems, not cloud devices. Rodriguez said Nasuni treats the cloud as a hard drive, but uses the same architecture as mainstream storage vendors. And he wishes cloud providers would treat storage and compute as separate entities, just as data centers do.
“This would not happen if people separeated compute and services in the cloud,” he said. “Compute and storage are totally different things in the data center, and people somehow bundle them in the cloud. They’re not bundleable. They’re two different systems with different characteristics. Azure did not have any issues in its storage layer. The storage piece of Azure has been highly available for the last 48 hours.”
Microsoft said the Azure issue was resolved a little after 1 PM ET today.]]>
Last December, Red Hat released a Storage Software Appliance (SSA) that Gluster sold before the acquisition. Red Hat replaced the CentOS Gluster used with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system. This week’s release — Red Hat Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) for AWS -– is a version of the SSA that lets customers deploy NAS inside the cloud.
The VSA is POSIX-compliant, so — unlike with object-based storage — applications don’t need to be modified to move to the cloud.
“The SSA product is on-premise storage,” Red Hat storage product manager Tom Trainer said. “This is the other side of the coin. The VSA deploys within Amazon Web Services with no on-premise storage.”
The VSA lets customers aggregate Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances into a virtual storage pool
Trainer said Red Hat takes a different approach to putting file data in the cloud than cloud gateway vendors such as Nasuni and Panzura.
“They built an appliance that sits in the data center, captures files and puts them in an object format and you ship objects out to Amazon,” he said. “We said ‘that’s one way to do it.’ But the real problem has been having to modify your applications to run in the cloud because cloud storage has been built around object storage. If we could take two Amazon EC2 instances and attach EBS on the back end, we could build a NAS file server appliance right in the cloud. Users can take POSIX applications from their data center and install them on EC2 instances. They can take applications they had been running in the data center and run them in the cloud.”
Red Hat prices the VSA at $75 per node (EC2 instance). Customers must also pay Amazon for its cloud service.
Trainer said Red Hat plans to support other cloud providers, and customers would be able to copy files via CIFS if they wanted to move from one provider to another. But Amazon is the only provider currently supported for the Red Hat VSA.]]>
HDS brought out the Hitachi Data Ingestor (HDI) caching appliance a year ago, calling it an “on-ramp to the cloud” for use with its Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) object storage system. Today it added content sharing, file restore and NAS migration capabilities to the appliance.
Content sharing lets customers in remote offices share data across a network of HDI systems, as all of the systems can read from a single HCP namespace. File restore lets users retrieve previous versions of files and deleted files, and the NAS migration lets customers move data from NetApp NAS filers and Windows servers to HDI.
These aren’t the first changes HDS has made to HDI since it hit the market. Earlier this year HDS added a virtual appliance and a single node version (the original HDI was only available in clusters) for customers not interested in high availability.
None of these changes are revolutionary, but HDS cloud product marketing manager Tanya Loughlin said the idea is to add features that match the customers’ stages of cloud readiness.
“We have customers bursting at the seams with data, trying to manage all this stuff,” she said. “There is a lot of interest in modernizing the way they deliver IT, whether it’s deployed in a straight definition of a cloud with a consumption-based model or deployed in-house. Customers want to make sure what they buy today is cloud-ready. We’re bringing this to market as a cloud-at-your-own-pace.”]]>