Storage Developer Cleversafe Gets Investment From CIA Venture Arm

Secure cloud storage developer Cleversafe has received a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel, an investment arm of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The company is also planning to unveil a new version of its Cleversafe Dispersed Storage technology with improved security and efficiency for storing data in the cloud.

The Cleversafe Dispersed Storage technology stores data by slicing it up into several slices and distributing the slices across multiple storage nodes, which can be either within a corporate data center, across multiple data centers, or in a storage cloud, said Julie Bellanca, director of marketing and a co-founder of the Chicago-based company.

By slicing data into slices and distributing it across multiple nodes, the data is secure since any unauthorized person who got access to one slice would not be able to access the entire data set, Bellanca said.

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A typical customer configures the data to be stored in 16 slices, and allows for up to six of those slices to be lost or corrupted before impacting the ability of the storage to be recovered, Bellanca said. That "10-16" configuration is popular because it is easy to spread that number of slices across two data centers, each with eight nodes, but it can be configured for any number of slices using the Cleversafe technology, she said.

Next: Getting Investment From U.S. Spy Agencies

In-Q-Tel's strategic investment in Cleversafe and the associated development agreement between the two allows Cleversafe's cloud storage platform to be used to support missions of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In-Q-Tel was chartered in February 1999 under the leadership of the Director of Central Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology with the support of the U.S. Congress.

It is one of a number of Intelligence efforts to acquire technology needed by government agencies, and does so with strategic investments in startups that have developed commercially-focused technologies that are deemed as able to provide advantages to the intelligence community within 36 months. In-Q-Tel estimates that, on average, for every dollar it invests in a company, venture capitalists invest an additional nine dollars.

"We have people who are experts in security and data, and so this is a seal of approval for us," Bellanca said.

Bellanca said she could not divulge the dollar amount of the investment from In-Q-Tel.

Next: Enhancing Storage Efficiency And Security

Cleversafe later this week also expects to announce the closing of a new round of funding separate from the In-Q-Tel funding. This new round, worth over $20 million, includes investment from existing investors. Bellanca declined to disclose the total investment in Cleversafe to date.

Cleversafe on Monday also unveiled version 2.3 of its Cleversafe Dispersed Storage Network. Included in the new version is thin provisioning capability, which allows storage administrators to over-provision their storage customers with more capacity than is physically available and automatically add the required physical capacity as needed.

Also new is disk balancing in the company's 12-drive storage appliances. Bellanca said this function detects storage pool imbalances and automatically shifts storage objects across multiple disks within a single appliance as capacity passes the 50 percent used threshold in order to improve overall capacity utilization.

The company also improved the security of the individual data slices with the addition of secure TLS and SSL network connections between the company's appliances. Bellanca said this capability ensures that, if network traffic is tapped or routed through an attacker, the attacker learns nothing of the content of the transmission. This security can be disabled in trusted network environments to increase performance as user credentials for accessing the data is encrypted, she said.

"Our customers in the financial services and federal government appreciate this level of security," she said. "It's also important for use in public clouds."