A Lean, Green Storage Machine

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The words “environmentally friendly” have been applied to a lot of things over the last few years, but rarely (if ever) do you hear them applied to storage devices, whose spinning disks comprise a big chunk of data center costs.

But in the last year or so, that trend has begun to change. Just as the amount of data organizations need to store has risen, so have energy costs, causing companies that both need and develop storage systems to seriously rethink how and where data is backed up. Enter greenBytes.

While no stranger to the needs of organizations with data-intensive storage needs, having previously run a company that made picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), the two entrepreneurs behind greenBytes are betting that their new network-attached storage (NAS) appliance, named Cypress, will be irresistible to enterprises in search of an efficient, reliable solution for archiving long-term persistent data, who are also looking to save some green on their energy bills.

A New Tree in the Storage Forest

“With the introduction of Cypress, greenBytes joins a handful of other innovative vendors in the storage industry competing for the customer’s dollar with offers of maximum capacity, minimum space utilization, and optimal power utilization,” said Jeff Boles, senior analyst and director of validation services for the The Taneja Group.

Stated Robert Petrocelli, CTO and co-founder of greenBytes: “Cypress represents a breakthrough in the data storage industry. With energy consumption rates — and costs — soaring and physical space shrinking, a new approach is needed to keep up with the world’s data storage needs. Cypress not only reduces power consumption by a factor of 5x, it also increases storage capacity.”

The company claims that Cypress cuts the energy consumption typically associated with data storage by up as much as 80 percent. That’s because the device uses only 26 Watts/TB at maximum power, which greenBytes said can be reduced to “an effective 7.7 Watts/TB” with Cypress’s built-in Intelligent Power Management and storage optimization tools.

Is Cypress for You?

Energy efficiency, however, is just one of the many features and benefits that greenBytes is touting with Cypress. The NAS system also boasts a new enterprise-scale file operating system, called ZFS+, derived from Sun Microsystems’ OpenSolaris operating system, which allows for real-time de-duplication, block-level compression and intelligent power management.

Other Cypress features include:

  • A lot of storage in a little space, with 11.5 raw TB per rack unit, including the server
  • Online de-duplication of NFS, CIFS and iSCSI across the entire storage pool
  • Real-time block-level compression
  • Remote replication
  • Intuitive interface and easy maintenance

As for who could benefit from Cypress, Matt Aitkenhead, greenBytes’ vice president of sales and marketing, identified three target audiences: Windows-based file-sharing environments, where people are frequently e-mailing and sharing files and could greatly benefit from Cypress’s data redundancy and de-duplication features; enterprises that need to store data-intensive images for the long term, such as hospitals and financial institutions, who are also concerned about space and power requirements; and large organizations in search of a virtualized, thin-provisioned de-duplicating SAN (in the form of a NAS).

Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO, who has been following greenBytes but is taking a wait-and-see attitude before passing judgment on Cypress, identified a fourth group of potential customers: “If you are a Sun and Solaris and/or [member of the] ZFS faithful, this is probably great news.” Cypress is also good news for the “Microsoft faithful,” he added, and anyone using “any of the many different Microsoft-based NAS solutions from vendors ranging from Dell to HP.”

However, Schulz noted that given the hype around Cypress and its broad feature claims (what he referred to as “buzzword bingo”), greenBytes will be “competing with the likes of Adaptec, BlueArc, Data Domain, Dell, EMC, Exanet or Exagrid, FalconStor, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, IBRIX, Intel, Microsoft and their Windows Storage Server-based NAS or NAS gateways, Nexsan, ONstor, Ocarina, Quantum, Sepaton, Storwize, Sun Supermicro, or Xyratex, as well as others in the long list of applicable buzzword vendors.”

Will Cypress live up to its claims and attract customers? Despite some good advance press from analysts, it is still too early to tell. GreenBytes is just concluding beta testing with several customers and plans to start shipping Cypress in the fourth quarter. However, with a price tag around $1 per effective GB (based on conservative storage efficiency estimates), the company is confident that it holds the winning card not just in buzzword bingo but in developing a solution that solves enterprises’ long-term data storage and energy efficiency needs.

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Jennifer Schiff
Jennifer Schiff
Jennifer Schiff is a business and technology writer and a contributor to Enterprise Storage Forum. She also runs Schiff & Schiff Communications, a marketing firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees, and partners.

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