ClearSky Data Exits Stealth, Touts Sub-2-millisecond Cloud Pipe To Primary Storage

ClearSky Data has come out of stealth mode with $12 million in venture funding. The company has a mandate to manage data storage across physical and cloud infrastructures to provide the performance of local primary storage with scalability and flexibility of cloud-based infrastructures.

Boston-based ClearSky Data also launched its Global Storage Network, which CEO and Co-Founder Ellen Rubin said combines primary, backup and recovery of data across the entire data life cycle, with an emphasis of giving customers high performance and low latency with cloud scalability.

The key, Rubin told CRN, was the way the Global Storage Network leverages points-of-presence, or PoPs, which are physical locations that provide direct access to a cloud.

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"PoPs are set up so customers have no more than 2 milliseconds of latency," she said. "We are picking PoPs in large metro locations based on customer location and the amount of fibre and numbers of carriers available."

ClearSky Data is initially starting out with three PoPs, but plans to scale across the U.S. and on to Europe this year and next, Rubin said. Its initial PoPs are located in Boston because of its proximity to the company and the large number of potential customers; Las Vegas because of the number of California customers there; and Philadelphia because of support from King of Prussia, Pa.-based cloud services partner Xtium, she said.

With ClearSky Data's Global Storage Network, front-end cache is added to customers' data storage, either on their own premises or in their local PoP. ClearSky can then manage it and provision connectivity to the cloud, Rubin said.

"We provide clean data lines that are totally secure so we can guarantee customers less than 2 milliseconds of latency," she said. "On the back end, the data is connected to a public cloud. Amazon S3 is the initial back-end cloud as it has fantastic connectivity. We use the public cloud for what it's good at: tremendous scalability and data protection."

For a single price that Rubin said was about one-third the cost of traditional storage, ClearSky Data provides the on-premise front-end cache, the storage capacity, the use of a PoP and all support. The ClearSky Data Global Storage Network is priced as a service offering based on actual capacity used, and so can increase or decrease with the capacity.

Rubin said ClearSky Data's offering differs from those of larger traditional storage vendors, such as NetApp, which has offered a direct connection to Amazon Web Services since 2012.

"Large, traditional storage guys can connect out from storage sitting in a data center to a public cloud mainly for backing up and archiving data that is not frequently accessed," she said. "We look to handle customers' performance data as a service, so there's no need for a traditional storage infrastructure. We feel users should just connect our storage and let us manage it."

ClearSky Data's Global Storage Network is an innovative solution that leverages the global footprint and connectivity of Digital Realty, said Bill Bradley, senior vice president of partners and alliances at the San Francisco-based data center services provider.

Under the two companies' partnership, ClearSky Data provides end-user storage solutions while Digital Realty provides the space, power and data center connectivity, Bradley told CRN.

New York-based Digital Realty itself does not offer public cloud services, but instead provides the colocation services and connectivity that allow customers to directly access their choice of cloud, including to Amazon Web Services, SoftLayer and Microsoft Azure, he said.

Customers of Digital Realty can access the ClearSky Data Global Storage Network from any of its 130 facilities worldwide, Bradley said.

"ClearSky can be deployed in all our locations, depending on the client," he said. "However, some of them are single-tenant facilities, which may not be a good candidate unless that tenant specifically needs it."