Start-up Aims to Store Long-Term Data - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Start-up Aims to Store Long-Term Data

With so many new government regulations, IT managers are increasingly turning to storage companies that can deliver products capable of addressing loads of long-term data that are not permitted to change, according to compliance rules.

The pressure on enterprises has paved the way for start-ups like Archivas to address a segment of the market experts call "fixed content."

The Waltham, Mass.-based company, which officially launches on Monday, is developing a specialized storage system that targets files such as check images, contract records, satellite images, and e-mail messages that are accessed frequently but cannot be altered.

Called ArC, the file system is object-based. Objects include a file, its metadata (data about the file), and file policies, meaning ArC stores and retrieves archive objects, not volumes or files, according to Asim Zaheer, vice president of marketing and product management.

Zaheer told internetnews.com ArC differs from competing products such as EMC's Centera and Permabit's Permeon because it features a fixed content repository that can be clustered among multiple applications.

By contrast, users must dedicate one EMC Centera per application, making it a more costly proposition. EMC also doesn't distribute metadata across the files. Permabit's products, on the other hand, store files, unlike the object-based approach Archivas and EMC employ.

Because Archivas has created ArC to store 50 million objects per node for hundreds of nodes, users have the ability to store petabytes (a quadrillion bytes or 1,024 terabytes) of data as opposed to the usual terabyte scale in this sector.

More generally, Zaheer says Archivas envisions its products as possible substitutes for tape systems that are unreliable or too slow as well as for RAID storage, which he contends is better suited for high performance, but not the high scalability of terabytes or petabytes required for archival storage.

ArC also offers heterogeneous systems support.

"On the back-end, you can layer our software on top of industry-standard components from HP, IBM, and Linux networks, and also interchange the type of disk that you employ the data," Zaheer says. "That makes us completely unique in this marketplace."

Moreover, because it is a clustered, redundant array of independent nodes, if one node fails, the data is recreated using the protection blocks of all the other nodes and is distributed across the entire cluster. Customers can also change applications or system platforms without impacting their ability to store and retrieve content.

ArC, which is currently in beta testing with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was praised by one industry analyst for its refreshing approach.

"This technology arrives at an opportune time; just as the demand for fixed content storage capacity is high and continues to grow, the limitations of traditional archive solutions are apparent," said Enterprise Storage Group analyst Peter Gerr, in a statement.

Archivas has landed $6 million to date in series A venture capital funding on the backing of North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. Its ArC system will be available in September 2004, with pricing expected to be around a penny per megabyte.

Story adapted from internetnews.com.

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