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StorSimple wheels out head-in-Cloud, feet-on-premises solution

Cabinet has portal at back to infinite storage Narnia

Startup StorSimple is SAShaying to the cloud with a small and medium business on-premises appliance for active data storage – and bulk data banished to the cloud.

The cloud is not enough. It needs to be married to local storage in a seamless way. The idea is to have a 3-tier storage scheme with hot data stored locally and bulk data sent off to the cloud, which is treated as a remote big fat disk tier. All data is deduplicated and the appliances are optimised for particular application areas. Deduplication minimises the amount of data that has to be transferred to and from the cloud.

There are three appliance products: the 1000, 5000 and 7000 series. They all use local SAS storage. The 1U 1010 is a so-called cloud on-ramp, with four 1gigE copper connections, a 50TB capacity limit gained through 10TB increments, and a single tier of single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) SAS-interface flash. The 2U 5010 and 7010 both have an additional local tier of SAS hard drives, starting at 20 and 40TB respectively, and maxing out at 100 and 200TB, again with 10TB increments. Their flash is solely SLC NAND. They can have the four 1gigE links as before, or two 1gigE and two 10gigE links, and their controllers, fans, power supplies and drives are replaceable.

In general, StorSimple says, "usable storage capacity indicates the amount of data written to the system. This data may be stored locally within the integrated storage tiers or in the configured cloud storage services. The amount of data stored locally is dependent upon working set size and deduplication ratio."

The company has taken the view that applications have a working set of data which needs to be directly on line locally and the rest, which can be stored in the cloud where there are no space - terabyte or floorspace - limitations except those imposed by cost. An iSCSI volume can span these multiple tiers of storage with automatic movement of data between tiers.

The appliances provide thin provisioning, with only written data occupying space, not an application's full allocation of storage. When data arrives in the appliance it is deduplicated at sub-file level and then, StorSimple CEO Ursheet Parikh said in a released statement: "Every block is then ranked through a unique BlockRank algorithm to determine the working set of data that is necessary for every day operations, while automatically moving less used data, which can make up nearly 75 per cent of a business’ data, to the cloud. This gives enterprises the best-of-both worlds - SSD performance and the elasticity of the cloud.”

StorSimple provides an example. It says that with only 25 per cent of content stored on premise and a deduplication ratio of 10:1, that instead of backing up a complete dataset over a WAN, StorSimple needs to move only 7.5 percent. For recovery, the volume group can be immediately mounted and the working set accessed – compared to moving the whole backup over the WAN.

Data sent to the cloud is encrypted, at AES-256 level, the WAN links are optimised, and supported cloud storage services include Amazon, AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain and Microsoft's Azure. StorSimple says multiple cloud services can be used simultaneously. The focused application areas are Exchange Server, SharePoint, Microsoft File Servers and Virtual Machine libraries. With the SharePoint application plug-in, the database is stored on SSD while the content – including large objects such as audio, video and CAD drawings – can be spread over SSD, hard disk drive or the cloud. This application plug-in includes Microsoft VSS-consistent application backup and restore.

There are tools for backup and recovery to/from the cloud. For disaster recovery StorSimple has a CloudClone architecture which means, it claims, "Everyone can now afford a disaster recovery centre – paying for it only when it’s used."

StorSimple is based in Santa Clara, California, and is funded by Ignition Partners, Index Ventures, Mayfield Fund and Redpoint Ventures. It raised $13m in B-round funding in September, bringing total funding to $21m.

It joins other cloud storage startups such as Aspera, BridgeSTOR, and Cirtas in what is becoming a hotly-contested space. BridgeSTOR uses local SSD storage and deduplication to optimise data access, storage efficiency, and reduced traffic loads to and from the cloud. Riverbed's Whitewater product is also aimed at this cloud gateway market.

StorSimple will ship product to customers through a channel and, with the Microsoft application plug-ins, must be hoping to gain instant appeal to Microsoft channel partners. Product is available immediately but pricing details were not released. ®


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