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Ctera Expands, Enhances Cloud Storage Capabilities

Cloud storage specialist Ctera Networks is targeting larger customers with a new data protection appliance and enhancements to its software and portal. The C400 is a 4-bay RAID-5/6 cloud attached storage appliance intended for 50-200 users, with a firmware version 2.5 that includes an agent for bare-metal back up and restore, as well as an agent for Exchange, SQL and Active Directory. The Ctera Portal will now address high availability and load balancing requirements.

It was always Ctera's intention to flesh out its product portfolio, so the C400 is just the natural next step, says the company. The 1U rackmount unit provides up to 8Tb storage, compared to the C200's 4Tb, and the CloudPlug, which converts any external USB/eSATA drive into Network Attached Storage with online backup. The company says the firmware and portal enhancements create a much more complete and integrated solution, which are essential as the market, especially small-medium businesses, increasingly embrace managed services.

According to new data from IDC, spending on public IT cloud services is expected to surge from $16.5 billion last year to more than $55 billion by 2014, a 27-percent-per-year pace. IDC's Frank Gens, senior vice president & chief analyst, notes in a recent blog that storage will grow from 9 percent of this market to 13 percent over the next four years, and while spending on public IT cloud offerings in 2014 will reach only 12 percent (one-eighth) of the size of traditional IT product spending, it will be almost one-third of the net-new growth in IT spending.

While the cloud storage market outlook is bright, it is also full of hype and confusion, says Terri McClure, a senior analyst at ESG. "There is lots of confusion (still) about what 'cloud' is, and vendors are 'cloud washing' their entire portfolio. For Ctera's market, though, cloud storage provides a way for small and medium sized business to implement data protection and business continuance strategies that they could not afford to on their own, and it helps cut costs for remote/branch office data protection."

She says the company helps address the big concerns with deploying cloud storage around security, latency and data availability. "Ctera fits in an emerging market segment of cloud storage enablers that help to address these issues by providing an onsite appliance that encrypts data, keeping the keys local to provide security, reduces latency by caching data or keeping local copies, and provides snapshot capabilities to provide data availability."