Cleversafe’s Cloud Storage Network Takes on EMC Atmos

Cleversafe has unveiled version 2.0 of its Dispersed Storage system, adding new features to improve the performance and data security of the massively scalable storage network.

Cleversafe’s cloud data storage system — which first appeared a year before EMC’s (NYSE: EMC) Atmos storage network — divides data into “slices” and disperses them across data centers so that each slice is unrecognizable and thus secure.

The company says the approach is cheaper than replication and offers greater availability and performance.

Cleversafe’s SecureSlice technology uses keyless encryption and “advanced secret sharing techniques” to make data in the cloud secure, and its PerfectBits data integrity feature promises “bit-perfect data storage and delivery” and proactive error correction, according to the company.

Cleversafe said the storage system also includes upgrades and expansion without downtime, hot swap disk replacement, and an architecture that tolerates six or more simultaneous failures. SmartWrite technology guarantees availability by ranking Slicestor nodes, while SmartRead optimizes content distribution even under storage node failures.

Cloud storage hasn’t gained much traction in enterprises yet, but Cleversafe CEO Chris Gladwin said a little traction is all it takes for a small company.

“There’s no doubt that the discussion is at a broader level than the adoption, but for us, a small part of the $40 billion storage market is a lot,” Gladwin told Enterprise Storage Forum.

The company has around 20 large-scale storage customers, including some government intelligence and defense users with “unbelievable storage requirements” that Gladwin said were impressed by the system’s security, availability and performance.

Wikibon analyst David Vellante said Cleversafe’s storage network compares favorably to EMC Atmos.

“Atmos will use its policy engine to replicate content, which gets distributed to multiple locations, but it’s less efficient than bit slicing the data,” he told ESF.

Vellante said Cleversafe is run by “total math braniacs. I watched this video the other day on Atmos GeoProtect and I will tell you, I’m way more impressed with what I’ve seen from Cleversafe in terms of data integrity and the ability to recover from lost data. Not saying EMC doesn’t have it, but it’s not evident in their marketing.”

Wikibon security analyst Michael Versace gives high marks to Information Dispersal Algorithm (IDA) approaches like Cleversafe’s, but added that the approach poses issues for compliance regulations such as SOX and HIPAA. “If you start dispersing data and sending it around your internal networks and across the Internet, how are you able to then perform all of the functions that are a prerequisite of many of the current compliance and regulatory processes?” he asked.

Cleversafe began life as an open source project, but Gladwin said the company is now working with standards groups like SNIA and IETF to achieve greater interoperability for the technology.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.
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