New Cheaper Storage Clouds Forming

While two startups are targeting the cloud for rolling out extremely cheap storage platforms, they’re using different technologies to make it happen.

Parascale’s software turns commodity Linux servers into online storage nodes costing less than a piece of Bazooka gum these days — about 25 to 50 cents per gigabyte. The four-year-old Cupertino, Calif.-based software developer just completed its first round of venture funding of $11.3 million.

One-year-old Nirvanix is re-inventing the tenured storage service provider (SSP) model as an online storage delivery network (SDN) — a unified, interconnected global platform of storage nodes costing 25 cents per gigabyte. Intel is a major investor in the company’s $18 million capital fund.

The upstarts are the latest pushing into a crowded online storage market but are fearless in facing off against established players such as Google, Amazon and EMC’s Mozy.

One reason is that Nirvanix isn’t looking to add backup capabilities like Mozy does, or hit the consumer market that Amazon targets, Edgard Capdevielle, vice president of business development, told

“When you go to the cloud you’re facing delay in data transmission and latency and that’s why we don’t house SAN data. We’re looking to house the preserved data where access delays won’t be an issue,” Capdevielle told

Google and Amazon, according to Parascale’s CEO Saja Krishnan, provide different solutions when it comes to single file performance requirements — a requirement the technology is not looking to provide.

“We are not the panacea for everything storage. Some solutions are suitable for transactional or engineering files and different access needs. That’s not us,” Krishnan told

Yet market entrance could still pose some challenges for new players.

While economics is a compelling reason to reach for the cloud, some enterprises are still concerned about handing off data.

After all that was a primary reason Google acquired Postini this year. Postini software encrypts, archives and enforces policies for e-mail, instant messaging and other Web-based communications.

Parascale doesn’t see security concerns by customers as any hindrance given its technology approach. Its Paracale Cloud Storage NAS system is built on the Linux XFS file system, Linux OX and the TCP/IP networking protocol stack and lets users build their own cloud environment. Currently in limited trials, the software should hit market within a few months.

“Different storage systems solve different problems,” said Krishnan. “We’re solving the data content issue. We’re making this kind of content storage inexpensive and in changing the economics we believe we can bring about new industries,” he added.

One example is in the area of genomic research and human body scans. Such scans run about $5,000 due in large part to the storage costs attached, said Krishnan.

By lowering the storage price, the human genome industry can decrease the scan cost, which could ignite user adoption as well as research for new scanning options by companies, he said.

While Nirvanix’s Capdevielle doesn’t see his SDN platform spurring new industries of commerce, he’s confidant lower storage costs can spur better storage and business efficiencies.

“We’re not getting in the middle between Oracle and data storage, but in the middle of the human and the data storage,” he added. One example is social networking sites, where users aren’t impacted by a millisecond delay in loading of photos and content, he explained. But the same delay would cause havoc with heavy database transactional systems.

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