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Cisco-Backed Elastifile Debuts Data Fabric For Managing Data From On-Premises To Clouds

The Elastifile Cloud File System was designed from the ground-up to manage and migrate any storage workload across on-premises data center and in public or private clouds.

Startup Elastifile on Wednesday officially launched the Elastifile Cloud File System, a software-only, flash-native storage offering that scales data across a global namespace spanning on-premises and cloud storage.

The Elastifile Cloud File System is the first distributed file system to be built from the ground-up for cloud scale and flash storage, said Sebastiano Tevarotto, president of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

That allows the data to be managed and moved between on-premises and cloud storage easily, Tevarotto told CRN.

[Related: Cisco In New Software-Defined Storage, All-Flash Storage Play With Elastifile Investment]

"We let customers find value in the data," he said. "This frees them from the legacy of focus on data. And we do this not just on premises, but also in they hybrid cloud."

Elastifile has raised over $50 million in funding, Tevarotto said. This includes investments from four enterprise data center and cloud investors including Cisco Systems, as well as funds from three enterprise flash storage investors, including Western Digital, he said. "This gives us a good position to take advantage of these vendors," he said.

The investors include other strategic partners, but Tevarotto declined to drop anymore names.

Elastifile sales are primarily channel-driven, Tevarotto said.

"We offer single-tier distribution," he said. "We will work with value-added partners who distribute our software and offer it as a subscription to create value for certain customers. This is great for partners with intimate customer relationships. Over the long term, we will move our focus to MSPs who can insert themselves into new service models with multiple cloud and SaaS providers."

Andy Fenselau, Elastifile vice president of marketing, told CRN that his company helps customers overcome two different, but related issues.

The first is the need to give on-premises storage administrators the advantage of public clouds, including elastic scalability, abstract the storage layer from the hardware, and shift from a focus on capital expenses to operating expenses, Fenselau said.

The second is to let customers accelerate deployment of hybrid clouds by lifting and shifting low- and high-level applications to the cloud, he said.

"We want customers to be able to shift between clouds to take advantage of price changes," Fenselau said. "That has been an issue until now. Customers are suffering from the 'Hotel California' effect: 'You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.'"

The Elastifile Cloud File System provides dynamic movement of workloads, dynamic scaling, multi-site operation, and self-service operation, Fenselau said.

It is based on the company's own Elastifile Cross-Cloud Data Fabric which provides for a cloud-scale, cloud-mature file system for any application running on any cloud environment, he said.

"We wanted a distributed file system built from scratch," he said. "No cutting-and-pasting from open source projects. It took our Israeli engineers four years to develop."

The solution includes a virtual controller which is deployed on a physical or virtual node, or in the cloud, to consolidate CPU power and storage capacity into a cluster. Power and capacity can be added to or deleted from those clusters as needed, Fenselau said.

It uses distributed metadata and the company's own algorithms to manage networks and data to provide scalability in "noisy" environments, including cloud environments, he said.

With Cloud Connect, that data can also include object storage with all the required storage services including compression, de-duplication, and migration, Fenselau said. However, in this case, the data is not treated as a single "blob," he said.

"Instead, we manage data migration and movement services with granular capabilities," he said. "Customers can use it to do snapshots to move part of the data. A segment of the data can be 'checked out' and placed back into the cluster as needed."

The Elastifile Cloud File System is a software-only offering that works on any commodity server hardware and flash storage, although Elastifile will have a hardware-compatibility list. "Customers can start with SSDs, then role in NVMe flash and then 3D Xpoint technology," Fenselau said. "They can mix consumer and enterprise grade flash."

The Elastifile Cloud File System is already catching the eyes of potential customers using proofs-of-concept and workshops to try it out, said James Weiser, practice lead for software-defined storage at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and early Elastifile channel partner.

"A lot of our customers are looking for ways to decrease their overall storage spend and get a better TCO (total cost of ownership)," Weiser told CRN. "They're looking at ways to leverage commodity servers to get the same services they get with dedicated storage hardware."

Weiser said solutions like Elastifile's could cut into traditional sales. "Storage is one part of the solution," he said. "There's a hardware pull, including Dell or Cisco servers. We're seeing our large enterprise customers rely on enterprise-class commodity hardware."

Weiser is, on the other hand, seeing a shift in customer spend from storage to compute thanks to software-defined storage.

"There are definitely tier-one applications that demand enterprise-class arrays," he said. "But a lot of applications can be moved to software-defined storage. That includes almost any tier-two apps, or unstructured data. And unstructured data is our biggest growth area."

Pricing for the Elastifile solution is consumption-based, Fenselau said. "We're trying to blow up the data silos," he said.

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