Vembu Uses Amazon Storage For MSPs, Home Online Storage

The Chennai, India-based company is also in the process of rolling out a new consumer-oriented version of its online storage service that takes advantage of the Amazon S3 cloud storage infrastructure for storing data.

Vembu's StoreGrid Service Provider Edition v3.0 is similar to its previous version with the addition of several new features specifically for MSPs, said Lakshmanan Narayan, vice president of marketing.

The primary change in the new version of StoreGrid allows MSPs to resell the storage service through smaller reseller partners who do not have the ability to manage storage as a service on their own but who have customers requiring the service, Narayan said.

"We allow master MSPs to provision smaller service providers," Narayan said.

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StoreGrid Service Provider Edition v3.0 provides rules-based access, which Narayan said allows master MSPs to give MSPs access to their own customers, MSPs to give customer access to their users, and customers access to their data.

It also provides clustering and load balancing, which Narayan said is important in a service provider environment. "Master MSPs have a farm of backup servers, and they need to balance the servers so they can function as a single entity," he said.

StoreGrid Service Provider Edition v3.0 also allows replication of data directly to the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) storage cloud, Narayan said.

A lot of service providers do local backups to a backup server on the customer premises, and then replicate the backup server to a remote server, Narayan said.

"Before, the provider needed to manage its own backup servers," he said. "A few months ago, we released technology to work with a remote server in the Amazon storage cloud. What's new is, we let customers replicate to the Amazon cloud, direct to Amazon S3, without requiring they nave a server running on Amazon EC2."

However, Narayan said, Vembu remains cloud-agnostic. "We work with pretty much any cloud platform the customer chooses," he said.

Vembu has yet to sign up any master MSPs, but is engaged in a number of conversations, Narayan said. "We know there's a market out there," he said. "We wanted to make sure we had a fully-ready product before we talk to them."

Also new from Vembu is Vembu Home, which is set to compete against such better known consumer-oriented online storage technologies as EMC's Mozy or the Carbonite services.

Most PC consumers who back up their data do so either via a local backup drive or to an online service like Mozy or Carbonite. With Vembu Home, the company is offering a hybrid service that lets customers do both, Narayan said.

Vembu Home backs up data to a local device like a USB disk or "thumb drive," and then backs it up again to the Amazon S3 cloud.

The benefit of working with Amazon as the destination for data backups is the reliability of the service, Narayan said.

"We've seen what happens with other companies like HP's Upline service crashes and customers lose data," he said. "We support Amazon because of its proven reliability. It's important that customers know their data is in a trusted place."

While Vembu's technology has typically only been available through channel partners, Vembu Home will initially be offered direct to consumers. However, Vembu plans to make it a channel offering down the road, Narayan said.

"Going direct is a way to drive business to the channel," he said. "We want to build a brand around Vembu, build the StoreGrid franchise, and then build the MSP infrastructure. Vembu Home will be the best marketing tool we have for StoreGrid."

Vembu Home is currently in private beta with between 500 and 1,000 customers by invitation. It will be open to a public beta in a few weeks, with the final release schedule to take place before year-end.

Vembu Home will be offered free-of-charge for local backups, with the online backups priced at a slight premium over the cost of the Amazon S3 service, Narayan said.

StoreGrid Service Provider Edition v3.0 is available now.