Startup Aims Storage Solutions at Providers

Compared with their enterprise counterparts, SSPs and ISPs are a needy bunch.

Compared with their enterprise counterparts, SSPs and ISPs are a needy bunch. With large numbers of customers whose storage needs are constantly fluctuating, storage service providers and Internet service providers demand storage servers that are flexible and scalable.

A Marlboro, Mass., startup believes it has the answer. Cereva Networks Inc., which launched last week, is planning to release a storage system this quarter designed for service providers. It will include integrated network and switch capabilities tied to a common storage disk array and will be able to scale up to 230 terabytes. By the end of the second quarter, the company plans to pump that up to 920 terabytes. That is comparable with Hitachi Data Systems Corp.s Lightning 9900 series, which scales to 37 terabytes, and EMC Corp.s Symmetrix, which scales to 23 terabytes.

Beta tester Peter Kirwan, chief technology officer for NaviSite Inc., of Andover, Mass., said Cerevas system is custom-fitted for the ISP user. A key feature is that additional servers can be deployed without disrupting the system. Virtualization software turns the physical disk drives into a logical pool.

"They thought of all the features you would never do for an individual enterprise company," Kirwan said. "The way they made the system, you can hook up lots and lots of servers to it, run a huge amount of bandwidth, and you wont have performance problems."

One analyst said Cerevas product, which has yet to be named, is the first of its kind in the centralized storage market. "This [device] is very unusual," said Arun Tanega, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, in Milford, Mass. "Its different than anything else that is out in the market right now. This is a huge challenge [Cereva] has taken on, both in the investment of money and the kind of talent it takes for a challenge like this."

Cerevas device is not for IT managers who need to scale to only 1 or 2 terabytes of data, Tanega said.

The system is built for the Internet, not for individual enterprises, company officials said. Products such as EMCs Symmetrix and Network Appliance Inc.s filers are built for the traditional enterprise storage user. Service providers have to deal with the changing needs of customers, who may need 500MB of storage one month and several terabytes the next.