Zetta Launches Cloud Storage for Primary Data

The Enterprise Cloud Storage Service is being tested by beta customers and should become more broadly available in the third quarter, according to CEO Jeff Truehaft

April 7, 2009

3 Min Read
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Most cloud storage service providers offer backup and archiving services designed to store information that isn't accessed frequently and doesn't need to be served up quickly. Startup Zetta is taking a different approach, announcing at Storage Networking World in Orlando, Fla., this week a service that aims to offer enterprises a scalable, on-demand storage service for all types of unstructured primary data.

The Zetta Enterprise Cloud Storage Service is aimed at mid-sized and large enterprises with between 200 and 2,000 employees and around 10 TB of data, especially those without a dedicated storage administrator. It uses a proprietary file system to house a range of data, including active file archives, home directories, data migrations, media storage for online distribution, and data warehouse extensions, the company says.

Zetta began testing its service with customers in recent months and plans to expand testing during the next several months. It is planning to makes its service more broadly available in the third quarter. The company has raised $11 million and has enough money to finance operations through the end of 2010 or longer, according to CEO Jeff Truehaft.

The company makes a distinction between "real-time" data, like that used by databases and data marts, and applications that don't need real-time access to data. The company says it has made fundamental changes in the design and architecture of software and hardware to deliver the performance and features needed by an enterprise-class storage service. Likely applications include sharing and collaboration, e-discovery, data warehouses, business continuity, compliance, and online disaster recovery, it says.

Truehaft argues that Zetta has solved many of the problems that plagued early storage service providers, including scability, security, administration, and issues involving multi-tenancy. The company has built a software RAID platform that stripes data across computers on a per-volume basis in a process known as RAIN, or Redundant Arrays of Independent Nodes, that can provide N+3 data protection, which uses 11 nodes. It can survive the failure of "three of everything," says Truehaft. The company also has implemented a public key infrastructure (PKI) for encryption and has a non-blocking architecture for the network and controllers. The company has built a data center on the West coast and plans to spread eastward. It expects to have a second data center "soon" and will use that as a target to offer replication services. The company is using a 10-Gbit/s networking infrastructure and will let customers access its data center via leased lines, wide-area networks, or other connections."If they used a leaded line and are within a couple of hundreds of miles of us we can replicate or exceed the performance of a NAS appliance," Truehaft says. The distance and speed of the network connection will affect performance, he concedes, but he argues that there is more to cloud storage than performance. "It is all about knowing that when the data reaches the other end that all of it is actually there. With our RAIN and N+3 and chunk-level checking we can offer that assurance."

The company is charging 25 cents per gigabyte and offers service level agreements for performance and the integrity of the data. "WE have a lot of multi-core computers to provide the horsepower, and customers will have a dedicated amount of performance from the system, no matter what time of day they need it or how many other customers are using our service."

Laura DuBois, program director of storage software at research firm IDC, said in a statement that "Zetta's core business is built around simplifying and supporting the expanding data storage needs of business customers. Zetta's solution for enterprise cloud storage addresses customers' feature set expectations and could usher in an era of cloud storage as an option for primary data."

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around enterprise storage. Download the report here (registration required).

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