Nexenta Aims to Unseat Legacy Vendors With Open Storage Software

By Kenneth Corbin

With so much of the ballooning cost of storage associated with hardware, Nexenta Systems is looking to disrupt the market with an open software solution that dispenses with the need to purchase proprietary equipment.

Founded in 2005, Nexenta offers software that is built on open architecture, standards and protocols that promises to help enterprises cut costs and eliminate vendor lock-in.

"Traditional legacy vendors, such as EMC and NetApp, require that enterprises and agencies buy pricey hardware every time they need to expand storage capacity, which is unsustainable for many businesses, particularly with the advent of big data," explained Nexenta CEO Evan Powell.

The company's flagship product is NexentaStor, which offers a central point of management that enables IT workers to oversee data stored locally or remotely, on disk or tape, and irrespective of whether the content is a recent backup or a long-term archive.

The technology is designed with a high level of customization in mind, sparing users the pain of having to shoehorn a preconfigured solution into their particular business processes.

"It's enterprise-class storage software that works on any industry-standard hardware," Powell said. "Essentially, we are doing to the storage industry what Linux and Intel did to the proprietary, cost-prohibitive server market."

Nexenta dubs its approach "open storage." Building on commodity hardware, NexentaStor offers the value proposition both of significant up-front savings and cost advantages down the road as enterprises scale up their capacity with additional equipment. The company boasts that its solution can yield savings of between 70 percent and 80 percent over proprietary, legacy technologies.

But that's not always an easy sell when dealing with potential customers who have been conditioned to accept long-established storage models.

"Traditional legacy vendors have been in the market for a long time, and many companies believe they are locked in to their antiquated model and are resistant to change," Powell said. But the technology at the core of Nexenta's offerings -- OpenSolaris and ZFS -- has a solid track record, he noted.

"So our primary challenge is to educate the market that there is innovative, but still substantiated, technology available that can significantly improve the performance, reliability and cost of their storage infrastructure," Powell added.

Among the features that NexentaStor sports are inline deduplication, unlimited snapshots and cloning and unlimited file size. The technology is also built to support integration in any virtualization scheme, including those that combine technology from multiple vendors.

Nexenta has partnered with major storage resellers, and conducts about 90 percent of its business through the channel, Powell said.

Looking ahead, Nexenta plans to broaden those partnerships as it expands globally, with a particular focus on the European and Asian markets.

Additionally, the company plans to release its virtual desktop solution, NexentaVSA for View, to general availability in the near future. NexentaVSA for View brings the technology that powers NexentaStor to VDI deployments, delivering cost-effective storage and high-performance I/O with similar cost savings to the flagship product. Nexenta also boasts that the product dramatically simplifies the challenge of managing VDI environments.

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here

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This article was originally published on June 13, 2012