ParaScale pushes private storage clouds

Startup claims its software can turn a group of heterogeneous servers and storage arrays into redundant, self-healing private cloud of storage

Cloud storage startup ParaScale is targeting enterprises, as well as service providers, with new software that it claims can turn a group of heterogeneous servers and storage arrays into a redundant and self-healing private cloud of storage.

The software is a kind of middleware that can pool a number of file servers, according to ParaScale CEO Sajai Krishnan. It does much the same as NAS clustering schemes like F5's Acopia devices or EMC's Rainfinity software, but more cheaply and on general-purpose hardware, he said.

[ Find out what cloud computing really means and more in InfoWorld's special report. ]

"Today, cloud storage means Amazon, Nirvanix, Google, Microsoft, maybe even Facebook, and it needs a large engineering team," he said. "We say, buy our software and put it on standard Linux servers -- you can even re-use old servers as storage nodes -- and you're a storage provider."

Speaking at Storage Networking World Europe in Frankfurt, Krishnan said that enterprises should consider ParaScale-based cloud storage as an alternative to clustered NAS because a private cloud will be easier to manage and expand, because it ties in with other trends such as cloud computing and SaaS (software as a service), and because it is resilient.

"In a way, we are RAID for file servers -- we make them dispensable," he said. "We can also do standard FTP, as well as NFS and CIFS."

He said that while he recommends that users start a cloud small, "it's nice to have at least five nodes. At the minimum, if you don't have at least 30TB of storage, growing at 10TB to 20TB a year, you really have to ask, do you want cloud storage?"

Krishnan, who formerly managed a business unit for NetApp, described ParaScale -- along with Amazon, Nirvanix, Flexiscale, and others -- as the third generation of cloud storage technology. Key to this new generation is the use of infrastructure technologies developed for Web 2.0, such as AJAX and WebDAV, he said.

"The keys to doing cloud storage right are automating your storage provisioning in the cloud, so you can add new storage nodes seamlessly," he said.

ParaScale has been working on its cloud software since 2004 and has had it running in trial form on a customer site for two-and-a-half years, Krishnan said.

He added that the company recently launched its first public beta version, with a second beta due on Nov. 15, and general availability is scheduled for early 2009. "We are aiming at a cost of $1 to $1.50 per gigabyte for the software," he said.

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