Cleversafe Chases Cloud Storage

Service providers use 'storage internet' as the basis for cloud offerings

August 20, 2008

3 Min Read
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Startup Cleversafe is offering a new take on cloud storage by adding service providers to its Dispersed Storage Network (dsNet).

Last year the Chicago-based vendor began talking about dsNet, which it describes as a storage Internet.’ By borrowing the same principles of packet-switching networks to data storage, the vendor has built a set of storage devices which essentially ‘slice’ data and share it across disparate locations.

“We see dispersed storage as an ideal technology for cloud storage or storage as a service because the systems can scale infinitely,” says Russ Kennedy, Cleversafe’s vice president of product management. “You can simultaneously lose some pieces of the network and still put the data back.”

Comprising a series of router-shaped boxes, Cleversafe's storage gear comes in three parts: A LAN-attached Accesser takes in data or images and disassembles it into slices, which are then compressed, encrypted, and stored across multiple endpoints called Slicestors. A Manager unit monitors the components and provides reports.

The different lookalike boxes in a dsNet operate on a few key tenets. The first is that the same packet-switching principles underlying Internet operations will work for storage. Hence, the dsNet slices data into multiple slices, which are then distributed throughout the network. If one system in the dsNet goes down, the data can still be regenerated from the remaining parts. This makes security stronger than in other grids, according to the vendor.”On a dsNet, we can engineer the reliability,” explains Kennedy. “You can lose multiple servers, multiple locations, and still not lose the content.”

Today the vendor added flesh to the bones of this strategy, announcing that five Internet and IT service providers are now using the dsNet technology. These include backup specialist Merrimac Solutions, ISP OnShore Networks, storage services vendor FastRoot International, and disaster recovery company Cyber Development Group, all of which are based in Chicago. A fifth company, Omaha, Neb.-based PinPoint Network Solutions, is also using dsNet to deliver high-speed network services.

”This is just the origin of a network that is going to grow,” says Kennedy, explaining that the list of partners will soon grow to eight. “We’re in discussions with people on the West Coast and the East Coast, so it will be in all parts of the U.S.”

At the moment, the dsNet has a total raw capacity of 48 Tbytes, half of which is used by Cleversafe, with the remainder split amongst the vendor’s service provider partners.

Some users have nonetheless voiced their concern about storage and software as a service, specifically highlighting the risks of sending critical data offsite.Cleversafe acknowledges that this is a valid concern for users, but claims that dsNet actually boosts the security of offsite data.

“If you’re going to store multiple peoples’ data in one storage system, there’s a certain amount of trust that a service provider has to provide [but] with dsNet, the data that is stored is not the original data,” says Kennedy. “Each individual slice does not make any sense on its own, therefore the data that is stored by the service provider is virtually unrecognizable.”

The exec, who cites Cleversafe’s main competitors as EMC, NetApp, and HP, was unable to reveal pricing for the dsNet-based services launched today, although he confirmed that they are likely to be in the same ballpark as Amazon’s S3 offering, which recently suffered a high-profile outage.

S3, which Cleversafe sees as a possible partner, charges 15 cents per Gbyte per month, up from 10 cents for each Gbyte transferred into the system.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)

  • Cleversafe Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Nirvanix Inc.0

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