Cleversafe Out With Dispersed Storage Network

Open source storage startup Cleversafe is moving into the second stage of
its evolution, with new hardware appliances built on top of its core open source
dispersed storage network technology

The new products provide access, storage and management capabilities in
hardware appliances with full commercial support. Cleversafe’s DSN uses a
mathematical formula known as the Cauchy Reed-Solomon Information Dispersal
Algorithm (IDA) when dividing up (slicing) data for storage.

Data slices are
stored across multiple nodes in order improve security and availability of
data. The protocols and core technology behind the data slicing and access
have all been developed in open source by Cleversafe.

There are three key offerings in the Cleversafe commercial portfolio. The
CS-Accesser product is the Cleversafe device that acts as a storage router
slicing and retrieving data in a dispersed storage network. The CS Slicestor
is the actual storage server that host the data slices. Then there is the CS
Manager, which handles management of the dispersed storage network as well as

Multiple Accessers and Slicestors can be deployed in a network to scale
storage to meet enterprise requirements.

While Cleversafe would like adopters to use all three of its hardware
appliances in combination, that’s not an absolute requirement. Chris
Gladwin, founder and CEO of Cleversafe, explained that since the key
protocols are all open source, a white box vendor or individual enterprise
could potentially do the same core dispersed storage network operations as
Cleversafe’s Accessor and Slicestor.

“Our commercial products include additional software beyond that which is in
open source,” Gladwin told “Most of it is
management capabilities that are not included in open source release.”

Gladwin also noted that Cleversafe appliance buyers will get the benefit of
a commercially supported product. Those that do choose to run a dispersed
storage whitebox of their own should be able to interoperate with
Cleversafe’s appliances. Though Gladwin cautioned that Cleversafe would not
necessarily certify or support whitebox implementation in the same way as
the commercially support hardware.

That said, Gladwin is really hoping that other vendors will actually pick up
the open source release.

“We want there to be a true ecosystem here,” Gladwin said. “We want to be a
big fish in a massive pond and don’t want to be the only fish in the pond.”

Cleversafe’s approach is competitive with traditional RAID
storage technologies. Gladwin argued that the distributed storage network
approach is a more resilient approach than RAID. That said Gladwin did note
that scale has a lot to do with it too.

Gladwin admitted that on smaller storage arrays RAID can actually be more
efficient than Cleversafe’s approach form an overhead point of view. The
problem in Gladwin’s view is that RAID doesn’t scale as well for larger
arrays requiring more replication in order to achieve reliability as you add
more hard drives to the mix.

“With dispersal the bigger the system is the more efficient it gets,”
Gladwin said. “So there is a scale tradeoff. Once you get to a certain scale
you really do have to switch over. We think 100 TB is a good rule of thumb,
if you’ve just got 10 TB of data then don’t bother.”

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