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The Planet expands cloud cover

Dave Raffo, Senior News Director

If cloud storage fails to catch on, it won't be for a lack of options.

Managed hosting service provider The Planet today went live with its Storage Cloud service, two weeks after Rackspace US Inc.'s Mosso made its Cloud Files online backup service generally available. Newcomer Axcient, Inc. also came out of stealth today with a hybrid cloud backup service.

The Planet first announced limited availability of the Storage Cloud network-attached storage (NAS) service based on a

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partnership with Nirvanix Inc. last fall. Today, the hosted service is generally available and The Planet is also opening up its cloud to non-hosted, storage-only customers.

Storage Cloud works as a Nirvanix node at The Planet's local Dallas data center or one of its other four facilities -- two others in the U.S. (East coast and West coast) plus one in Germany and one in Japan. Customers access data through Nirvanix CloudNAS, Nirvanix FTP Proxy or an API.

Capacity-based pricing starts at $0.25 per GB on a remote node and $0.40 per GB on The Planet's local node for the first 5 TB; bandwidth costs $0.15 per GB for the first 10 TB transferred. The Planet also offers basic support for $50 per month and premium support, including client-side diagnostics, for $100 per month.

Rob Walters, general manager for storage and data protection at The Planet, said he expects the non-hosted option will expand support for the Storage Cloud, although most of his customers will likely remain with hosted storage.

Antonio Piraino senior analyst, managed hosting at New York City-based Tier1 Research, said the Storage Cloud was the next logical step for The Planet as storage becomes a key focus of managed service providers.

"More of the managed service guys are getting into the storage business, even the colocation guys," Piraino said. "Cloud storage solutions are becoming popular. SANs [storage-area networks] are expensive, and you don't really need the speed of a SAN, you go for a storage service."

Bill Robertson, founder and CEO at Q Point Technology, said his company uses Storage Cloud in its TrueSafe Service Provider Suite online backup offering.

"There are a zillion hosting providers, but when you look at those setting up a utility model for storage, that number shrinks dramatically," Robertson said. "The Planet had that on their roadmap and their time frame was near-term."

Robertson said his company finished two months of technical evaluations of The Planet's Dallas data center at the end of February. "The benefit of an online backup service is that it gets data offsite," he said. "One of the things The Planet did uniquely from Day 1 was to offer regional zones for customers to choose where their data is going to live."

Cloud Files comes out of beta

Rackspace made Mosso's Cloud Files generally available earlier this month. Cloud Files allow customers to store files up to 5 GB, with pricing beginning at $0.15 per GB. Rackspace also said its Jungle Disk cloud storage service will support Cloud Files to go with Jungle Disk's support of Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3).

Tier1 Research's Piraino said Rackspace and The Planet still target different markets. Rackspace goes after primarily U.S.-based Fortune 1000 companies, while The Planet has more international and small- and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. But he said the two are coming closer together in their services.

"The Planet's trying to develop the same services as Rackspace," he said. "They come from different angles, and I think there will come a day when they truly compete. But they're not there yet."

Newcomer joins the game

Axcient launched its pay-as-you-grow service for SMBs that it will sell through IT solutions providers. The service consists of an on-premise backup and replication appliance with offsite storage and services aimed at organizations with less than 500 workstations and 10 TB of data. Axcient provides data backup for laptops, servers, and workstations, data retention for archiving and compliance, and disaster recovery services. For disaster recovery, it will ship a new appliance with the customer's data within 24 hours of a site failure.


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