Depending upon whom you talk with, cloud storage is either: the storage service that’s bought, the infrastructure that’s consumed or the pieces that make up that infrastructure. But aside from this confusion in terms, implementation has also been a challenge for companies interested in the cloud. In addition to the cost - dedicated cloud infrastructures can be expensive - actually getting it integrated into the environment can also be complicated.

A company that recently briefed Storage Switzerland may have an answer. Caringo’s CAStor is a software solution that runs on commodity hardware and provides an affordable cloud infrastructure that’s simple to implement. Hardware agnostic, CAStor can create a storage node out of a server with: an x86 architecture, 1GB of RAM and a GigE connection. All nodes in the cluster, including virtual nodes within the same multi-core server, contain processing as well as storage, ensuring performance as the cluster scales. Instead of using RAID, all data objects are automatically replicated to other nodes to provide redundancy and ‘self healing’ when data errors occur. And, internal ‘fingerprinting’ algorithms and SOX-compliant metadata maintain long term data integrity.

The Immediate Private Cloud

CAStor is self-configuring and requires just a USB key to load the software and OS and turn a computer into a storage node. When additional machines are added (you can mix and match hardware) they ‘are automatically configured and brought into the cluster. ‘Rolling upgrades’ can be accomplished by putting in faster servers and retiring older ones, with no resulting downtime. Applications interface to CAStor using HTTP - no APIs needed. They have also just released a simple desktop application that lets companies bring the cloud into their environments easily and start seeing benefits right away.

CloudFolder is an online, scalable file repository that offers a simple way to protect file data without impacting workflow. It installs on a client computer, local or remote, and functions just like a standard folder in Microsoft® Windows, connecting to CAStor running in the data center *. As well as freeing up disk capacity on the client’s local drive, it also eliminates backup - since each file is automatically replicated in the clustered architecture. This application makes it easy for a company to get started using cloud storage and grow as they move more data to the CAStor infrastructure. Caringo also has partnering agreements with a number of Independent Software Vendors providing solutions in storage tiering, backup, email compliance, content archiving, document imaging, etc.

  1. * The CAStor application can be running in an out-sourced data center or remote corporate data center, and is accessed over the LAN, WAN and/or internet.

Storage Switzerland Take

Caringo’s founders have a long history in the file and Content Addressed Storage (CAS) space - their previous company’s technology became EMC’s Centera product. Aside from handling the compulsories for good scale-out archive storage - assuring data integrity and providing growth with performance - they’ve also addressed the next step, implementation. CAStor seems to bring the simplicity back to Cloud storage and removes some of the impediments to a more widespread adoption.

Their CloudFolder application gives the system a simple starting point for a good chunk of corporate data on people’s desktops. This represents a relatively low-risk use case and makes getting started an easier decision. With the economics of using commodity (even spare) hardware and its self-configuring operation, they’ve removed the cost and complexity barriers as well. For companies interested in the cloud storage concept, but having trouble getting their feet wet, CAStor looks good.

Eric Slack, Senior Analyst

Briefing Report