Software for Cloud Storage: Not Easy to Do Well

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-11-04 Print this article Print

"It's hard to do the software for these storage clouds," Henry Baltazar, storage analyst for The 451 Group, told me. "There's two parts to it: The first part is the front end, the application. The thing that's host-facing: How do you manage it? How do you provision it?

"The back end is the nuts-and-bolts part. How do you scale the thing out? How do you have enough buckets for all the storage? That's where you'll see that the new [second-generation cloud] companies like ParaScale, Nirvanex and Cleversafe know how to do this well," Baltazar said.

High-performance, dedicated storage systems are typically used in government laboratories, such as Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos, which require high scalability and ultra-high throughput performance for high-end scientific computing projects. In a way, they resemble custom-designed cloud systems, but "they're really more like big machines," Baltazar said.

However, the newer companies noted above are providing infrastructure for unstructured data that doesn't need particularly fast I/O access. This business data doesn't need high security and simply needs to be a safely accessible place; small, starter-type clouds -- namely, those consisting of two to five servers -- can cost in the $10,000-$15,000 price range and are well within the budget limits of many mid-size businesses.

"The ParaScale model is designed to scale up inexpensively for a lot of backup and archiving uses, for that content that won't be needed too often. It's been said that 70 percent of stored data is never touched again," Baltazar said. "That's what you want to put in a storage cloud."

Private clouds are a viable way to save business data in view of the recently amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which require businesses that keep digital data to have a systematic process by which they can show the court, in the event of litigation, that it is keeping it organized and available for at least three years.

What does the future portend for private clouds?

"It looks good," Baltazar said. "There's plenty of room for this business model to work well.

"There's tons of content, especially in the consumer space, that's being created every day, whether it's video, photos, office documents -- that is not in Exchange servers, SQL servers, or Oracle servers. You don't need to have high I/O for this, you just need to get to it."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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