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Blade storage vendor rolls out object-based clustered storage

Verari partners with Caringo to compete with EMC in the developing object-based storage market. The blade storage vendor's DataValet consists of blade units that fit into its BladeRack 2 platform.

Verari Systems Inc. is packaging its blade storage servers with Caringo Inc.'s content-addressed storage (CAS) software to deliver another new competitor to EMC's recently announced Atmos object-based storage product.

Caringo originally came out of stealth as an answer to EMC's CAS archiving system. That made sense. Centera was built on technology it acquired from FilePool in 2001, and Caringo's creators were behind FilePool. Today, however, Caringo's website is cloud and distributed-storage themed. While its CAStor product retains its hashing and WORM characteristics, it is positioned as "content storage software."

This move in Caringo's product reflects a larger shift analysts have identified in the wider market. That shift is a convergence between active and archival unstructured data that blurs the lines between previously distinct tiers of storage. The new Verari-branded system, DataValet, can work with enterprise archiving applications, as well as the rapidly emerging Web 2.0 content distribution space, said Eric Seidman, Verari manager of storage systems.

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DataValet consists of blade units that fit into Verari's BladeRack 2. Each unit contains two storage blades that hold up to 12 TB of SATA disk apiece. The nodes are connected via Gigabit Ethernet to each other and to NAS gateway nodes in the BladeRack that connect to clients.

The Caringo software adds capabilities, such as unique object identifiers, WORM storage, automated lifecycle management according to policy and cryptographic hashes, for data integrity. Verari claims the system can theoretically scale up to thousands of nodes and petabytes of storage over multiple locations.

Latest in a series of object-based storage launches

Storage vendors are attacking the Web 2.0 and cloud computing markets by rolling out new object-based storage systems trying to keep up with the massive capacity demands of geographically distributed service providers. Object-based storage, which carves up files into larger object units rather than small blocks, is considered easier to manage on a massive scale than traditional file systems, according to Data Mobility Group analyst Robin Harris. "When you get to this size, the block as a storage unit is too small," he said.

EMC's Atmos made the first splash in this space last week. Atmos uses object-based metadata to allow users to set policies that determine where to store information, which services to apply to it, how many copies should be stored and in which locations. Web services REST and SOAP are built in, as are capabilities, such as replication, versioning, compression, data deduplication and disk spin-down. Customers don't have to set up file systems or assign LUNs. During setup, they simply answer a few questions to set policy.

Bycast joined this fray earlier this week with the announcement of StorageGRID 8, which is an update to its object-based storage software. StorageGRID 8 adds clustered NAS gateways into the system to boost performance, as well as features like virtual server support designed to appeal to cloud service providers.

In addition to an object-based approach to unstructured data storage, these systems create grids or clusters of hardware. Verari and EMC's Atmos cluster preconfigured x86 servers and SATA drives. Bycast supports a range of existing storage arrays, including MAID arrays and tape libraries.

All three players claim their products are more space and energy efficient than traditional storage systems, either because of disk spin-down in the case of Atmos and Bycast, or highly dense server hardware configurations in Verari's case.

EMC has the advantage of its name brand and global support infrastructure for its new product. "Atmos is designed for a globally distributed massive architecture, and EMC has the support infrastructure in place to back it up," said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Terri McClure. "You can't scale globally if you can't provide support globally. I think that will be the key challenge to overcome for the smaller vendors like Caringo."

However, Caringo and Bycast have had products on the market longer than Atmos has been around. And, Verari claims blue-chip customers for its server hardware, including Virgin America, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sony Imageworks.


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