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Zadara Storage pledges to enable SAN, NAS as a cloud service

Newcomer Zadara Storage promises "storage array as a service" that allows companies to store enterprise apps on Amazon and other public clouds.

Startup Zadara Storage today enhanced the performance and data protection for its software that is designed to remove limitations of running block and file storage in public clouds.

Zadara bulked up its Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) that provides SAN and network-attached storage (NAS) on Amazon and other clouds. The vendor bills its OpenStack-based technology as a "storage array as a service." Noam Shendar, Zadara's vice president of business development, claimed the VPSA Enterprise Suite enables customers to overcome low I/O and volume capacity limits that make it hard to keep databases and other high-performance applications in the cloud.

With version 2.0 of VPSA Enterprise Suite, launched today, Zadara added low-impact snapshots with read/write clones, solid-state drive (SSD) read/write caching, thin provisioning and asynchronous replication.

The original version of VPSA Enterprise that shipped in 2012 included Quality of Service and encryption of data at rest, as well as multi-tenancy and other features required for cloud storage.

Zadara Storage supported Amazon Web Services in its 2012 launch, and has since added the ability to deliver its storage on Dimension Data's public cloud and in collocation sites hosted by Eircom, Equinix and KVH.

"The classic scenario for us is a multinational company that has a local application or shrink-ware application from Microsoft or Oracle and wants to run it in Amazon," Shendar said. "Amazon can't support it because it has no NAS support, clustering or high performance. We offer all that and complete the Amazon menu for them. Shrink-wrap software can't be written, and proprietary apps are expensive and risky to rewrite."

Zadara Storage offers VPSA in a public cloud or private cloud model on-premises. Zadara owns the hardware for private cloud customers. Customers can start with two storage nodes. Each node contains 36 drives, which can be any mix of SSDs, SAS and SATA. Customers can add nodes on the fly.

Customers who use the public cloud version receive two or more virtual machines dedicated to them. Shendar said no drives in the cloud are shared by customers. He said Zadara has approximately 40 customers, almost all using the public cloud model. The Zadara software is the same whether it runs on a private or public cloud.

VPSA Enterprise is priced on two factors: the amount of storage consumed and performance, which depends on the type of drives used. Customers are billed monthly, but Shendar said capacity and performance are metered hourly and averaged for the month. He said the service starts at 79 cents per hour, and Zadara's customers will average well less than $1 per gigabyte per month depending on controller performance levels, capacity and drive type.

Logistics software vendor Roadnet Technologies became a Zadara customer in late 2012 to host its Roadnet Anywhere fleet management application on Amazon Simple Storage Service. Bernie Velivis, who manages Roadnet's cloud infrastructure as a consultant, said the company looked at Zadara after deciding to offer Roadnet Anywhere in a Software as a Service model instead of selling it as on-premises software.

"We sold our legacy product as a NAS appliance," he said. "So we needed to have an equivalent of a NAS device from the application's perspective. We needed a fault-tolerant volume we could mount with distributed lock management on Windows instances."

Velivis said he looked at Red Hat storage before Amazon recommended Zadara. He said the asynchronous replication enables off-premises backup and disaster recovery for the cloud application.

Without Zadara or Red Hat software, Velivis said, Roadnet Anywhere would have had a single point of failure. "If a server goes down, everything would be lost," he said. "That's not my first preference at all because I'm the guy who has to get out of bed and fix things when they break."

Ben Woo, managing director of New York-based analyst firm Neuralytix Inc., said Zadara Storage fills in the gaps of cloud services such as Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), which limits customers to 1 TB storage volumes and lacks the performance for many enterprise applications.

"The differentiator for Zadara is they can do enterprise block storage in the cloud," Woo said. "You have the flexibility of EBS with the performance of a storage system and the functional benefit of elastic pricing that you expect in the cloud. Anybody running Oracle or SAP would be a prime candidate for this service."

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