Cleversafe enables storage service providers

By Kevin Komiega 

-- Cleversafe is set to announce tomorrow that the first commercially available Dispersed Storage Network (dsNet), a platform for storing and archiving digital content, is up and running. Built using Cleversafe's appliances, the dsNet was created by a group of the company's service provider, telecommunications and hosting partners and will subsequently serve as the foundation for new online data protection services aimed at SMBs.

Cleversafe's technology slices up digital content using Information Dispersal Algorithms (IDAs) and disperses the slices, via secure network connections, to multiple storage nodes on the dsNet. Each individual data slice is useless by itself, but any threshold of the slices can be used to re-create the original data. It is a technique that allows the dsNet to tolerate multiple simultaneous failures of hardware or storage locations, while keeping data secure and accessible.

The newly announced commercial dsNet totals 48TB in capacity, half of which is being used for Cleversafe's internal storage and test and development needs. The remaining 24TB has been divided evenly between Cleversafe's Dispersed Storage Provider (DSP) partners to be used as the enabling infrastructure for storage services.

Each of the partners -- onShore Networks, FastRoot International, Merrimac Solutions, PinPoint Network Solutions, and Cyber Development Group -- has purchased and deployed Cleversafe appliances and is operating those components as part of a multi-site production dsNet.

A Dispersed Storage Network is built by deploying and inter-connecting three appliance-based components from Cleversafe. It requires a CS Slicestor, CS Accesser Dispersed Storage router, and CS Manager Dispersed Storage network manager.

The CS Slicestor provides 3TB of raw storage capacity per 1U server, while the CS Accesser slices up and moves the data. The CS Manager functions as an out-of-band network appliance that manages, monitors, and produces statistical reports on capacity utilization and error conditions.

A CS Slicestor appliance costs approximately $11,300, while both the CS Accesser and CS Manager appliances cost about $12,300. A typical configuration of eight Slicestors, two Accessers, and one Manager delivers 24TB of raw capacity. Cleversafe's vice president of product management, Russ Kennedy, claims a typical configuration can be configured with up to 13-nines of calculated reliability for approximately $127,000.

"We believe this is the right technology for offering storage as a service," says Kennedy. "The dsNet is ideal for off-site backup and data protection, and from a pricing perspective our partners are now able to offer storage as a service at a very attractive price point."

Kennedy did not disclose exact pricing for storage services hosted on the dsNet, but says it will rival those of Amazon's S3 storage service, which currently costs $0.15/GB per month for capacity used and additional sub-$0.20/GB fees for data transfers.

"Pricing is typically set by the partners, but from our conversations they will be close to if not below what Amazon publishes as their pricing, but with more reliability and higher availability," Kennedy claims.

Cleversafe's circle of partners is targeting storage services based on the dsNet at SMBs in need of off-site storage. There may be a market for the dsNet technology in the enterprise, but the initial focus is on smaller businesses that lack high-end infrastructures and storage personnel.

"We see two markets. One is comprised of enterprise customers that want to build, manage, and operate their own internal dsNet, but we see more traction in the SMB space with the potential of growing into a mid-market or enterprise play," says Kennedy.

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This article was originally published on August 18, 2008