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Online storage startup challenges Amazon

Nirvanix is targeting operators of Web 2.0 applications

By Jon Brodkin
January 14, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Network World - Amazon is probably the biggest name in the emerging online storage market, but new competition is coming from a startup named Nirvanix Inc. that built a storage service to accommodate vast increases in digital media content fueled by the growing popularity of Web 2.0 applications.

Nirvanix was founded one year ago and made its Storage Delivery Service generally available in October.

"The box model is dead," claims founder and CEO Patrick Harr. Harr admits that storage giants like EMC still make a good buck, but he predicts that customers will increasingly see there's little competitive advantage to operating storage in-house when you can do it "in the cloud."

Nirvanix is backed by Intel's capital investment arm and several other venture capital firms.

"Nirvanix has clearly targeted Amazon's S3 [Simple Storage Service] for competition," analyst Deni Connor, a former Network World writer who recently started the analyst firm Storage Strategies NOW, wrote in an e-mail. "Both companies focus on developers and businesses at procuring secure storage for their Web applications and content. Whether Nirvanix will be able to compete with Amazon's S3 remains to be seen, but Storage 2.0 Web companies like Nirvanix stand a real chance in the industry of doing something great -- providing scalable and secure storage without the capital expense of buying it."

Intel Capital has invested an undisclosed sum in Nirvanix, which has received at least $14.5 million in funding from firms such as Mission Ventures, Valhalla Partners and Windward Ventures.

Harr says Nirvanix is targeting a few types of customers, including operators of Web 2.0 applications, businesses looking for data backup, and content publishers or heavy users of content. Nirvanix has about 150 business customers, both small and large, he says, 10 of which are named on the company's Web site.

The startup is building out six storage nodes in co-location facilities, one each on the East and West coasts of America, and four more in Europe and Asia. Customer data can be moved among the sites to ensure information is stored close to where it is used, Harr says.

Nirvanix charges 18 cents per gigabyte of storage each month, more than the 15 cents charged by Amazon. Harr says Nirvanix is cheaper than Amazon for about half of his customers, because of additional Amazon charges associated with looking up data. Where Nirvanix tries to differentiate itself, he says, is in offering extra services like e-mail and phone support, enhanced search capabilities, user account management that helps monitor and control multi-user applications, and maximum file sizes of 256GB -- compared to five gigabytes with Amazon.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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