Cleversafe Releases Dispersed Storage Products

Cleversafe commercializes its technique for creating a 'storage Internet'

February 21, 2008

2 Min Read
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A year after announcing its "dispersed storage" technology, Cleversafe this week unveiled the first commercial products designed to implement it.

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.

All these look-alike boxes in a Cleversafe Dispersed Storage Network (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 -- making security stronger than in other kinds of grids.

Because a dsNet doesn't require all nodes to be up and running to restore dispersed data, Cleversafe says it obviates the need and cost of replicating data.

A second principle involves the use of iSCSI, with the Cleversafe Accesser deploying the SCSI protocol to appear to LAN users as a locally attached disk drive.Here's a schematic:

Figure 1:

Cleversafe declares its dsNet elements to be scaleable without limitation. But in reality, users will have to determine their comfort levels. On Cleversafe's Website, for instance, literature indicates that after a Slicestor holds 3 Tbytes, it may be time to add another unit. also, each Slicestor handles up to 16 slices (32 are on the roadmap), and at least 10 nodes are needed to recreate data. Thus, 30 Tbytes of storage would require about 10 Slicestor units, each governing 16 slices.

This can get expensive: Each Slicestor costs $11,300. According to Cleversafe, a typical configuration of eight Slicestors, two Accessers, and one Manager can deliver 24 Tbytes of raw storage capacity for about $127,000.

The Cleversafe products are set to ship on March 31.Cleversafe is doing more than selling products. It's also created an open source portal and community for its technology. A range of 15 hosting providers are working with Cleversafe so far to establish a "storage Internet": Included are EasyStreet Online Services, FiberLink, PocketiNet, Softlayer, The Planet Internet Services, and ViUX, to name a few.

The concept of dispersed or distributed storage isn't restricted to Cleversafe, although so far, it's the main implementer of geographically distributed nodes for data dispersal. Similar principles are at work on a smaller scale in a number of storage products, including software from RevStor and Seanodes.

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