The Economics Of Private Storage Clouds - InformationWeek

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2/3/2009
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John Foley
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The Economics Of Private Storage Clouds

ParaScale is about to release new software that lets customers create "storage clouds" using commodity Linux servers. The economics are such that the cost of a petabyte of storage, once the domain of only the largest organizations, is coming within reach of more companies.

ParaScale is about to release new software that lets customers create "storage clouds" using commodity Linux servers. The economics are such that the cost of a petabyte of storage, once the domain of only the largest organizations, is coming within reach of more companies.Based in Cupertino, Calif., and founded in 2004, ParaScale's cloud storage software runs on Linux OS, the Linux XFS file system, and IP networking. The platform is designed for unlimited scalability, though in its first iteration it has been tested to 100 nodes. ParaScale describes its software as an object file system that's "largely self-managing."

In addition to scalability and no-fuss administration, ParaScale touts lower storage costs. ParaScale's software lists for $1.05 per gigabyte, or $1,050 per terabyte. That compares with $2 to $5 per GB for enterprise storage platforms, according to ParaScale CEO Sajai Krishnan. Amazon's S3 storage service costs 12 cents per GB, but that's a monthly fee and there are additional costs for data transfer and requests.

Installed on commodity hardware, and with discounting by ParaScale, IT buyers will find that they can get a sizable storage system for a few thousand dollars. For example, you could build a 6 TB storage cloud at a cost of about $12,000. That's with 4 Linux servers (3 for storage and 1 control server) at a cost of about $1,400 each, plus the software.

That's assuming you're buying new servers. As companies decommission x86 servers as a result of virtualization and data center consolidation, those unplugged systems can be put back into play. Companies that are able to reuse servers can create storage clouds for the cost of a ParaScale license alone. In fact, if you have less than 4 TBs to store, you can use ParaScale's free trial version to create a mini storage cloud at no cost.

The same cost metrics can be applied to super-sized storage clouds in the petabyte range. Krishnan estimates that IT departments can get a petabyte of Linux hardware for $250,000. Add in a discounted software license, and you're talking a 1 PB storage cloud for somewhere under $1 million, depending on your negotiating power.

ParaScale has a dozen beta testers; three quarters of those are enterprises (private clouds), and one quarter are hosting companies and other service providers (public clouds). Krishnan admits that storage appliances are a competitively priced alternative to ParaScale for applications requiring 10 TBs to 20 TBs of storage. But once you get into the 30-TB range, and if your storage requirements are doubling annually, the cost metrics shift in favor of private storage clouds, he says.

Not everyone buys the concept of private clouds. Here's another look at ParaScale by InformationWeek's Andrew Conry-Murray.

What do IT departments think of ParaScale's private storage clouds? We're about to find out. The startup's software is due for general availability within the next five weeks.

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