Bycast launches digital archiving platform

By Kevin Komiega

-- Long-term digital archiving has spawned a new crop of scalable, virtualized storage technologies that span multiple locations, and has lead to the creation of archiving and storage services delivered via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models and so-called cloud storage platforms.

This week, Bycast, a player in the space since 2002, announced the availability of the eighth generation of its StorageGRID platform with a range of enhancements, including a distributed file system gateway for added scalability, multi-tenancy capabilities, and support for virtual server deployments.

The StorageGRID 8 platform virtualizes information retention and access over a spectrum of heterogeneous storage devices, ranging from high-performance disk to archival media, distributed over multiple sites. According to Bycast's CEO, Moe Kermani, the enhancements boost system performance, reduce data center footprint through the usage of virtual servers, and strengthen the overall platform for SaaS customers offering digital archiving services.

The new Distributed File System Gateway (DFSG) is a clustered file system front-end to complement StorageGRID's distributed multi-tier object store. Kermani says coupling the performance and throughput of the DFSG clustered file system with the StorageGRID distributed archive provides a scalable, unified storage system that integrates storage devices in a single system that is accessed through a standard file system interface.

Multi-tenancy functionality is also new to version 8 and is aimed at service providers and internal IT departments deploying storage services. The multi-tenancy features makes it possible to set up discrete security partitions to ensure that multiple customers or departments using the same storage service have their own independent, secure archives.

StorageGRID 8's new support for VMware ESX lets space-conscious users run a number of StorageGRID components inside VMware virtual machines, and new audit and reporting capabilities beef up usage tracking for more detailed per-transaction, per-byte, or per-asset chargeback models.

Bycast also announced the availability of StorageGRID 8 Express Bundles for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The bundles are simplified configurations of StorageGRID that offer smaller companies the same platform used by enterprise customers.

The StorageGRID platform is, in many ways, similar to other technologies that have been tagged as cloud storage platforms. Most recently -- and most notably -- EMC entered the fray with the official launch of the EMC Atmos cloud storage platform that uses metadata policies and commodity hardware to store and manage petabytes of globally distributed information from a single location.

Kermani says he considers EMC a competitor, but there is a bright side to EMC's entry into the market.

"We knew Atmos was in the works and we see it as legitimizing the platform that we have by establishing market credibility for the technology," says Kermani. "We’ve been working on object storage, metadata-driven policies and multi-tenancy since 2002."

Kermani also believes Bycast's eighth-generation storage platform has a leg up on EMC's first release of Atmos.

"StorageGRID is an established platform for large-scale digital archives and this release raises the bar on scalability and performance. New capabilities enable customers to utilize StorageGRID across a broader set of data intensive applications, including the delivery of digital archiving as a service," Kermani says.

Bycast also has some heavyweight OEM partners for the StorageGRID platform, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard (HP).

IBM sells the StorageGRID product as the IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager Software and Big Blue's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) combines its TotalStorage and System X servers with the Grid Access Manager Software as a storage platform for healthcare organizations. In addition, IBM uses Bycast's File System Gateway technology to provide a standard CIFS/NFS interface for the IBM System Storage DR550.

HP and Bycast also have a strategic OEM partnership to tackle storage and archiving for medical imaging under the HP brand Medical Archive Solution (MAS).

Related articles:
EMC unveils cloud storage platform
What is cloud-based storage?, part 1
The benefits of cloud-based storage, part 2
Cloud-based storage, part 3

This article was originally published on November 21, 2008