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Nirvanix readying cloud-based NAS

Startup Nirvanix today unveiled CloudNAS, which will combine Nirvanix software agents with Linux or Windows servers at the customer site to offer standard NAS storage in the cloud. Until now, Nirvanix and most other cloud storage services such as Amazon’s S3 required API integration between applications and the cloud service.

Nirvanix has had three large companies alpha testing CloudNAS, and is now starting up an open beta program, according to chief marketing officer Jonathan Buckley. “CloudNAS can run on a laptop,” Buckley said. “We’re looking to bring dozens more companies into the mix.”

As far as I know, this is a first. Rackspace’s Mosso offers cloud-based NAS, but only for Web developers. Nirvanix says CloudNAS will use commonly available interfaces, including NFS on Red Hat Linux 5 or SUSE 10 and CIFS on Windows XP. Customers must provide the server hardware and hook it up to Nirvanix’s cloud. The company charges 25 cents per GB per month for its service, but the NAS software will be free. Customers will have the option of a $200 per month support contract.

Just don’t look for CloudNAS to replace your production NAS boxes any time soon. Buckley said he expects the service will be used for mainly for backup, archiving, and other applications that can tolerate latency. “We’re not going to restrict what people put on it, but cloud storage can never be as fast as local enterprise storage,” Buckley said.

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