Hitachi Data Systems, Cleversafe and Nirvanix seed their cloud storage offerings

Hitachi Data Systems looks to build a cloud business out of traditional products; startup Cleversafe optimizes object-based cloud storage software; Nirvanix goes for hybrid cloud storage.

Established storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and startups Cleversafe Inc. and Nirvanix today moved to strengthen their cloud storage offerings, reflecting the ongoing trend of vendors looking to convince customers to move toward a cloud model.

Hitachi Data Systems launched a Private File Tiering service, which the vendor claims is the first of a planned suite of cloud services. Cleversafe rolled out Version 2.1 of its object-based software that provides a foundation for service providers and government agencies to offer cloud storage services. With the new version, the startup is offering its software separately instead of only on an appliance. Nirvanix rolled out its hNode hybrid cloud storage product that stores files in the customer's data center and replicates to Nirvanix's offsite Storage Delivery Network (SDN) cloud.

Analysts say all types of storage vendors are working on packaging their products for cloud implementations.

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"Vendors are setting the foundation for selling products through cloud service providers, and becoming cloud service providers themselves," said Rick Villars, vice president, storage systems and executive strategies at IDC.

John Webster, a senior partner at Evaluator Group Inc. agrees: "Storage vendors look at the service provider space and see it as a place where if IT in general isn't going now, it will be soon. So everybody's jockeying for position here."

Hitachi Data Systems offers NAS management as a service

With its first private cloud service, Hitachi Data Systems is trying to convince organizations that it is easier and less expensive to let the vendor handle their file management.

The Hitachi Cloud Service for Private File Tiering is aimed at organizations already running NAS who want to move legacy or less-frequently accessed data off their primary data storage systems into a private cloud. HDS adds Hitachi Remote Storage Services, the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) as back-end storage and Hitachi Data Protection Suite (HDPS) management software. The remote services provide monitoring, provisioning, reporting and consumption-based billing capabilities. HDPS, which is an OEM version of CommVault's Simpana management software, handles policy-driven data movement. Customers access files through their primary NAS systems through stub files on HCP's lower-priced drives.

Linda Xu, director of product marketing at Hitachi Data Systems, said the service offers utility pricing because customers only pay for storage they use.

"We bring the gear to the customer, and we own it," Xu said. "There's no CAPEX for the customer."

She said HDS will set the price for its File Tiering service closer to its general availability in a month or two.

Hitachi Data Systems is also partnering with service provider Digi-Data Corp. on a public online cloud storage service using HDS hardware with Digi-Data software and services on top of it. The HDS services with Digi-Data are targeted at telcos and systems integrators who want to offer storage-as-a-service to consumers and small businesses. The storage can reside at the service provider's facility or at a third-party hosting site.

"In our view, the cloud is not a single product," Hitachi Data Systems' Xu said. "It's a way to deliver it resources and services. We'll embed a lot of cloud-enabling attributes in our portfolio."

IDC's Villars said with its early cloud launches, HDS hopes to open the door to organizations thinking of moving to the cloud through service providers or traditional vendors.

"Hitachi is building a platform to help service providers jumpstart cloud initiation," he said. "This also lets customers get comfortable putting cloud in their infrastructure."

Cleversafe: Software-only approach lowers cost

Unlike Hitachi Data Systems, Cleversafe has been focused on the cloud from the start, with what it calls a geographically distributed storage system.

Since it began selling its Distributed Storage Network (dsNet) to service providers in 2008, Cleversafe has bundled software with its own hardware, However, Cleversafe director of marketing Julie Bellanca said providers have been increasingly interested in buying only the software.

"Our software is Java-based and Cleversafe's hardware is industry standard, so it's portable to other platforms," she said.

She said Cleversafe is also working with partners to put its software on white boxes to bring down the cost to customers.

Starting price for a configuration for 64 TB of raw capacity based on using 2 TB drives is $43,400 for software licenses only, and $73,000 for bundled hardware and software. Hardware pricing includes a Manager appliance, two Accesser routers and eight Slicestor storage nodes.

Cleversafe is also adding capabilities to its APIs that let providers integrate its Dispersed Storage software with their billing systems, customer resource management (CRM) software and management consoles. API enhancements include vault usage metrics, storage container auditing and SNMP event alerts.

Bellanca said Cleversafe's early customers include large integrators in the federal government, as well as service providers for healthcare organizations.

Evaluator Group's Webster said offering dsNet as software only should help Cleversafe broaden its appeal, especially with government agencies. "Large users will package additional hardware for this with other hardware they have, and that brings down the price by helping them reach economies of scale," he said. "I think you'll see more cloud offerings done this way."

Nirvanix goes hybrid cloud route

The Nirvanix hNode includes software and a minimum of 200 TB of storage to run in the customer's data center. Nirvanix provides data monitoring and management services. The vendor claims hNode can scale to more than 1 PB per location, all under one namespace.

Data can be accessed through CIFS, NFS, the Nirvanix REST API or through software from CommVault, Atempo, Arkeia, Gladient, Nasuni, Ocarina Networks, Tarmin and Vembu.


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