TwinStrata Improves Performance, Capacity Of Cloud Storage


Cloud storage developer TwinStrata on Monday unveiled a new version of its CloudArray appliances with increased volume size, improved bandwidth throttling and scheduling, and SSD options.

TwinStrata, which launched last year, builds cloud storage and data protection solutions around public storage cloud offerings such as Amazon and AT&T, said Nicos Vekiarides, CEO of the Natick, Mass.-based company.

"Our CloudArray technology takes cloud storage from one or more cloud providers, and makes it look like an iSCSI storage array," Vekiarides said.

CloudArray does that via either physical or virtual appliances that connect customers to public storage clouds, Vekiarides said. Those appliances use dynamic caching and bandwidth optimization to improve performance, and secure the data in the cloud with automatic encryption.

It can also be used to add the cloud to a disaster recovery program, Vekiarides said. "Customers can bring up data in a cloud so they don't need any offsite dedicated infrastructure for disaster recovery," he said.

The newest version, CloudArray 2.5, provides larger-sized data volumes, Vekiarides said. Using thin provisioning, customers can dynamically grow data volumes to up to 384 TBs, he said.

Also new is the ability to throttle and schedule bandwidth by varying the amount of network bandwidth used for transmitting data to the cloud according to customers schedules, he said.

With CloudArray 2.5, the metadata is automatically backed up to the Cloud Array portal so that, after a disaster, customers can log into the portal, access the metadata, and instantly get access to their data on a new appliance, he said.

TwinStrata also introduced two new physical appliances in the CloudArray series. The Model 2S is designed for high-performance applications with 10-Gbit Ethernet connectivity and 2 TBs of onboard SSDs for cache. The Model 3 includes full redundancy of critical components for use in high-availability environments, Vekiarides said.

TwinStrata has proved a good way to get customers started in cloud storage, said Eryck Bredy, founder and CTO of BNMC, an Andover, Mass.-based solution provider and partner to the vendor since late 2009.

One of the biggest struggles for customers in terms of on-line storage is the fact that most vendors require customers use their agents, which brings up concerns about whether the technology will work with existing backup technology, Bredy said.

"TwinStrata doesn't use agents," he said. "And it doesn't mean changing backup practices or governance. With midsized customers, governance is a big issue. So if they are using (Quest Software's) vRanger or Veeam to backup up virtualized environments, TwinStrata works. For traditional disk-based backups using (Symantec) Backup Exec or NetBackup or other product, whatever customers use, just drop TwinStrata in."

Bredy also said the ability to offer TwinStrata's CloudArray as either a physical or a virtual appliance is important. "I tell customers the appliance can be a zero-U, or an no-footprint, appliance," he said. "So if the customer is already heading into virtualization, they can implement it with no extra power or cooling."

CloudArray 2.5 is currently available. TwinStrata is offering the virtual appliance version for a 30-day free trial with unlimited cloud capacity, Vekiarides said.

About 50 percent of TwinStrata's business goes through indirect sales channels, a figure Vekiarides said is expected to grow over time.