Users choose Caringo CAS over clustered NAS for nearline storage

Some users are deploying Caringo's CAStor CAS software instead of clustered NAS systems for nearline storage.

Caringo Inc. is taking a new direction in data archiving by positioning its content-addressed storage (CAS) software as an alternative to clustered NAS for nearline storage.

According to Caringo vice president of marketing Derek Gascon, version 2.2 of the company's CAStor software includes new parallelization among nodes in its hardware clusters. This enhancement improves performance to the point where users can deploy CAStor for nearline storage (rather than deep archival storage), and therefore as an alternative to clustered NAS systems.

Caringo has not released performance benchmark results for CAStor, but Gascon claims that half of its customers already use the product for online content serving, as well as, or instead of, archiving.

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Caringo also claims its CAS software can take the place of a file system or global namespace in traditional clustered storage products. CAStor runs industry-standard CIFS or NFS using a file system gateway, which can also be clustered (although no global namespace is available on the gateway), as well as HTTP access natively. According to the company, CAStor can be installed on virtually any x86 hardware with DAS.

Analytico Inc. analyst Tom Trainer said he could see CAStor being deployed as nearline storage by organizations with large amounts of frequently accessed data, but not frequently modified data. The latter would include pay-per-view video channels or websites, or records-intensive environments such as human resources. "Users looking for multiple access points to a file and [who would need] to modify it frequently probably are going to go for a file system," Trainer said, since any modification to a CAS object means that it gets a totally new address.

CMWare, a hosted service firm based in Plainsboro, N.J., offers its customers the ability to upload digital media from PCs for sharing over the Internet or through mobile devices. The company has CAStor installed on standard servers instead of a SAN or cloud infrastructure and uses CAStor as clustered storage.

CMWare CEO Jim Ryan said CAStor provides his company with highly available, highly redundant data. "It's critical for our service," he said. "We need to be able to offer significant storage space that's cost-effective and scales tremendously. Imagine the volume of stuff that somebody might upload -- thousands of songs, pictures or videos. It's difficult to forecast, and it's impossible for us to keep tacking on more and more [unclustered] hard drives."

CMware has 18 TB of capacity on servers, and Ryan expects that figure to at least double over the next year.

CAStor replaces storage network
"With Caringo, we don't need a storage network," said Dale Skran, CMware's vice president of engineering. "We run CAStor on standard servers. We use it as our main place to store media, not really for archiving. People upload files from PCs and can access via mobile phones and over the Web.

"We considered more of a traditional Fibre Channel SAN approach with a large number of disks," Skran noted. "We also looked at services like Amazon S3. But long-range, Caringo is cheaper. S3 is more for capacity management. Caringo is really a different technology that solves a different problem."

Skran said his only complaint with CAStor is it's tougher to back up data than with a SAN. "The only feature we've missed is no capability for backups," he said. "If we want an offsite backup, we have to set up another Caringo site."

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