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ExaGrid Picks Its Nodes

ExaGrid Systems, a startup founded by two former executives of defunct storage service provider StorageNetworks, has come out of stealth with a disk-based backup system it says goes above and beyond anything on the market today (see ExaGrid Debuts Disk Backup and StorageNetworks Succumbs).

Jim Pownell, president and founder of ExaGrid, says the startup's software was developed out of the experience he and Dave Therrien had when they were involved in managing StorageNetworks' 50 data centers.

"We used to build very large networks at StorageNetworks -- with 50 Tbytes or 100 Tbytes -- but the question was, how do I protect it?" he says. "In the past, you couldn't unless you threw a ton of hardware and a ton of people at it."

The "grid" in the startup's name comes from its concept of using commodity hardware to let multiple storage servers -- connected in multiple locations -- back up and protect each other. ExaGrid's boxes provide access via standard network file protocols such as NFS, CIFS, and FTP. The building blocks of the system are 1U-high servers ("disk nodes") with an Intel processor, 1 Tbyte of storage, and 1 Gbyte of memory; as many as about 250 of these can be stacked together behind a single ExaGrid filer.

"We're adapting the concepts of grid computing to storage," says Gareth Taube, ExaGrid's VP of marketing, who was previously in charge of Emulex Corp.'s (NYSE: ELX) IP storage networking unit.

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