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Zetta offers cloud storage for the enterprise

Start-up resurrects primary storage-service-provider model with cloud

April 6, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Start-up Zetta Inc. today unveiled an enterprise-class, software-as-a-service storage business with an architecture built on proprietary systems and offering an all-inclusive service starting at 25 cents per gigabyte of storage. The service is targeted at businesses with 200 to 2,000 employees.

Enterprise-class storage service providers (SSP) of the late 1990s and early 2000, such as StorageNetworks Inc., failed because companies had concerns around security and the possibility of co-mingling of information with competitors also using the service, according to most industry observers.

Chris Schin, vice president of products at Zetta, said his company's Enterprise Cloud Storage service uses separate encryption keys for each volume of data, so that even data from different departments in the same company using the service cannot be read.

Zetta also claims its service supports all unstructured data types and offers scalable performance, enterprise-class data availability and guaranteed quality of service.

The founders of Zetta, three out of four of whom are former employees of content-sharing site, built out Zetta's data center infrastructure as a redundant array of independent nodes (RAIN). This is similar to RAID except that it stripes data across servers instead of disks and is connected in a network topology with multiple interfaces in order to increase fault tolerance.

Schin said the company is using proprietary, purpose-built primary storage software that ensures an N+3 disk parity, meaning a disk array can tolerate the failure of up to three disks without losing data. The latter technology advances separate Zetta from the likes of Web 2.0 cloud SSPs such as Amazon with its Simple Storage Service and Nirvanix's Storage Delivery Network.

"Those services tend to be for markets like the Web 2.0 developer who needs extra storage space or for a small business," but they're not for an IT professional, Schin said.

Zetta's Cloud file system offers snapshots, replication and a common name space that allows it to be easily adopted by existing users and applications. It also replicates data to geographically dispersed data centers for business continuity and disaster-recovery purposes.

Jerry Levine, head of IT at AQR Capital Management LLC, an investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., said he has been testing Zetta's Enterprise Cloud Storage for the past month and so far he likes what he sees in throughput and data availability.

Levine has a typical enterprise backup scheme, where primary data is kept on a high-end Fibre Channel storage-area network -- in this case using EMC Corp.'s arrays -- and backups are performed to a tape library. Levine said he wants to be able to offload noncritical research data from his expensive primary disk arrays to secondary storage. However, he also wants the data available in minutes and doesn't want to spend "tens of thousands of dollars" to build out his infrastructure with secondary disk systems. Levine currently manages about 100TB of data on disk.

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