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Article

Start-up Uses the Cloud Computing for Primary Storage

The company describes its technology as a cloud storage gateway

Cloud Computing for SMBs on Ulitzer

A year-old start-up thinks it's cracked the code on using the cloud for primary storage, not just backup.

The Massachusetts concern, an outfit called Nasuni, is currently offering a free 15-day come-all-ya download of its widgetry, a virtual NAS file server that runs in a VMware virtual machine, dubbed, simply enough, the Nasuni Filer.

Right now it automatically provisions file storage on Amazon S3 and Iron Mountain. Other clouds, like Nirvanix and Rackspace, are supposed to be added in the next 60 days. Nasuni imagines customers eventually sending the same files to different clouds for redundancy.

The company describes its technology as a cloud storage gateway and says it provides a CIFS/NFS interface to files stored in the cloud.

That means ACL and Active Directory support so the thing can fit into existing environments where it can be used to consolidate a NAS cluster into a single device or support an existing application, such as a content manager or image server.

It figures users uncomfortable with a complete transition to cloud storage can use the Nasuni Filer for keeping second copies off-site for disaster protection.

But we digress.

Nasuni captures a user's entire file system hourly and saves snapshots to the cloud, where they remain off-site yet accessible. The snapshots are dedup'd to minimize capacity use. Administrators can roll back to any point in the life of a file, directory or file system.

It also encrypts all the data, or snapshots, sent and stored in the cloud for safety's sake via OpenPGP with AES-256 - or any other standard the customer selects - with the keys escrowed with a third party lest they be lost. With snapshots, there's theoretically instant restore.

The Filer needs a large 500GB disk cache to dedup the changes going to the cloud, compress them, aggregate them, then reconstruct the data coming back in. A high-speed Internet connection wouldn't hurt.

Copies of the user's working files are kept in the cache for fast access.

The company is targeting the Storage-as-a-Service at the mid-market, specifically data-centric companies with 200-2,000 employees, like healthcare and financial firms, figuring they would be delighted to dispense with having to buy any more infrastructure to accommodate unstructured file growth.

The service will run about a flat $250 a month, with no limit on users, plus capacity.

Nasuni means to bundle the unlimited, utility-based capacity in with the price so the user only gets one bill. It says cloud traffic is WAN-optimized for performance and the actual storage used is minimized.

During the beta period there's no charge for the cloud storage.

Nasuni was co-founded by CEO Andres Rodriguez, who also started Archivas, an online storage management ISV that Hitachi bought three years ago. He and his mates picked up an $8 million first round from North Bridge Venture Partners and Sigma Partners.

Rodriguez says he sees the cloud as the "future for all file storage."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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