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Review: Ctera C200 Is What Cloud IT Should Be

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has gone to market with an approach to cloud storage that simply makes very good sense for small or mid-sized businesses.

But if the phrase doesn't make for a good motto, it does make for sound advice when you consider its approach and technology.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has gone to market with an approach to cloud storage that simply makes very good sense for small or mid-sized businesses, or workgroups, that seek a cost-effective way to straddle both the hard-wired world of hands-on information technology and the developing world of hosted infrastructure. With the Ctera C200, a toaster-sized, network-attached storage device, Ctera provides a solution that allows for on-site data backup with a secondary backup into the company's own hosted site.

With a caveat that each enterprise would need to evaluate its own set of security and regulatory requirements, the CRN Test Center can fairly say that the solution is fast and easy to deploy, works as advertised and provides solid management and administration capabilities.

Let's start with the device itself. Small enough to fit on a desktop without getting in the way, the C200 is built as a 2-bay appliance that can hold a couple of 3.5-inch SATA drives and also support two USB storage devices. It connects to the network via Gigabit Ethernet port, and its administration console is easily discoverable on the network via browser. That leads us to a discussion of the hosted part of the solution.

Through the management console, VARs or administrators can set permissions, provision resources, schedule backups, set file sharing, configure alerts and notifications and monitor the system. It's also where cloud backup services are managed, including cloud backup scheduling. The console was well designed and is easy to navigate, which we found helps cut down on time needed for administration.

Like other hosted storage services, Ctera also provides for very simple remote access to files via custom URL to its Ctera Portal service.

As part of the $499 list price on the C200, the solution comes with one year of 10 GB of backup with more capacity available. Ctera works with several partners in its hosted services, including Rackspace, one of the leading providers of hosted infrastructure. (The CRN Test Center has found Rackspace to be reliable and transparent in its infrastructure and performance.)

The bottom line: Ctera's technology and service are elegant, easy and fast to deploy, flexible and cost-effective.

The company heavily favors the VAR channel with its sales model and program, and the C200 is sold only via partners. It has positioned itself well for enterprises that want to migrate slowly from on-premise to hosted IT, and it has also positioned itself to be in a strong position for some time to come in the small- and mid-markets. It's a solution we can recommend.

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