20 Coolest Cloud Storage Vendors

Storage-as-a-Service is, for many solution providers, their entry into cloud computing. It features all the hallmarks of a cloud computing offering, including the use of a shared infrastructure outside the customers' data center to store primary or backup data, and some form of virtualization to integrate that infrastructure seamlessly with existing storage and backup schemes. And since nearly every customer is looking for a better way to store data and back it up, there are plenty of opportunities to talk about off-site managed storage, whether or not the term "cloud" comes up. Here's a look at 20 cool vendors that can help take partners into the storage cloud.

The Remote Backup Appliance (RBA) from 3X Systems serves as encrypted backup. Solution providers bring the 3X RBA to a customer to do the initial backup of all its PCs. Further backups with deduplication technology are done as the data changes. PCs can automatically find the 3X RBA to do their backups, making it a mini private storage cloud. It can be brought to a customer site or remote site to restore operations after a disaster.

Asigra provides WAN-optimized software to help customers leverage public and/or private clouds through a single interface for remote data protection and archiving. The agentless softwarealso allows management of backup life cycle. Asigra recently moved away from basing partner margins solely on sales volume, and now bases them on the commitment partners make to Asigra, giving smaller partners the same margin opportunities as larger partners.

Startup Axcient offers a hybrid cloud storage model that includes a combination of a storage appliance and Internet-based storage service that lets customers back data up both locally for fast restores and online for safe archiving. SMBs can purchase Axcient's storage appliances with capacity between 500 GB and 10 TB through channel partners, who then connect them through the Internet to cloud-based storage infrastructures that are owned and managed by Axcient.

Carbonite is a pioneer in online backup and the first to offer unlimited backups for a fixed price of $55 a year. The company also offers its storage cloud offering to systems vendors for bundling purposes, and has a program to let solution providers add it to their list of services. Carbonite's software backs up data changes automatically when the PC is idle, and encrypts the data for security purposes. Customers can restore individual files or complete data sets.

Caringo's CAStor lets solution providers build a cloud storage infrastructure by plugging a USB key onto multiple industry-standard servers. Those servers are clustered, and all files stored in the CAStor cluster are replicated. The company also offers a content router to distribute content from the CAStor cloud, the ability to serve files from that cloud and a desktop archive utility that allows individual end-users to store files and make them available without disrupting workflows.

Ctera provides an appliance which includes everything needed to get storage to the cloud in minutes. The company's CloudPlug is a full-fledged Linux-based appliance about the size of an AC adapter which plugs into a power outlet, a router, and a PC to automatically handle backups to a cloud-based storage provider without the need for additional hardware or software. The company also offers a small two-bay NAS appliance which also automatically backs data up to the cloud.

The Doyenz ShadowCloud platform can help solution providers restore servers in the cloud for low-cost disaster recovery, failover and data migration. The company allows the building and testing of servers as virtual machines using VMware's ESXi server virtualization software and StorageCraft's ShadowProtect backup software for physical environments. These servers can then be restored and deployed in minutes at the client site, or on managed hosted infrastructure from players such as Savvis or Rackspace. Customers pay the equivalent to about one hour per month of the solution provider's consulting fee, while solution providers get recurring revenue and better margins for their investment.

eFolder helps SMB solution providers offer cloud-based storage and e-mail archiving. The company also lets its solution providers offer a hybrid cloud storage offering which includes a local disk-based backup appliance for fast restores while connecting that appliance to the cloud for remote backups. eFolder last year also acquired the DoubleCheck e-mail management and security business of Network Management Group in a bid to combine storage, e-mail archiving and e-mail security into a channel-only, integrated services offering.

EMC's Mozy online backup offering, which it acquired in late 2007, still remains one of the most popular cloud-based backup offerings. EMC in late 2008 combined its Mozy offering with Pi, a provider of services for personal information management it acquired, into a new subsidiary, Decho. Decho is aimed at providing a platform on which to build cloud-based storage and other services, particularly the ability to store and manage the full gamut of personal information.

i365, a subsidiary of Seagate, works with solution providers and managed service providers to help customers manage their storage infrastructure in a cloud environment. The company offers a full range of cloud storage services through partners, such as data protection, e-mail archiving, electronic discovery and retention management tools, including data restoration, migration, and erasure. i365 most recently introduced technology to help software vendors tie their applications directly into the i365 storage cloud.

IBM's Smart Business Storage Cloud is a private cloud service that supports multiple petabytes of data and billions of files. It is based on IBM's blade server and XIV storage technologies. The service lets businesses build an on-site storage cloud managed by IBM, or back up data to one of IBM's own data centers. IBM also plans to build a business-grade public cloud for storage.

Intronis Online Backup enables partners to offer their own branded cloud storage service. It features block-level online backups to ensure only changes to data are backed up and offers full security as well as a full set of compliance-ready archiving and recovery capabilities. It also manages backup, storage and restoration of Microsoft Exchange files. Solution providers can get commission and recurring revenue for referring customers or can provide the Intronis service as part of their own suite of managed services.

Mezeo provides software that lets IT hosters, SaaS providers, MSPs, telcos and ISPs develop cloud-based storage for customers and resellers. The Mezeo Cloud Storage Platform includes a Web application, a native Windows desktop client and native applications for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. With the platform, service providers can provide sharing, collaboration, file tagging, nested files and folders and security.

Reldata develops technology that consolidates iSCSI SAN, NAS and WAN into a single unified storage offering that solution providers can use to help customers build private storage clouds. The company's RELDATA 9240i/RELvos appliance lets customers independently scale disk storage capacity, replication storage services and network performance without disrupting their applications. The appliance uses Reldata's own RELvos virtualization operating system and includes a high-performance storage controller and integrated SAS disk storage.

Robobak provides automated agentless data backup technology for remote and branch offices, giving managed service providers and traditional solution providers tools to help build cloud-based Storage-as-a-Service. Robobak's v9 Data Protection Suite uses technologies such as block-level incremental backups, compression and deduplication. It also includes a full set of encryption features as well as a complete set of tools for setting backup policies.

Symantec offers two cloud-based backup services. For businesses, Symantec offers the Symantec Protection Network, which solution providers can resell to customers. As part of Symantec Hosted Services, the company's cloud-based services platform can secure and manage information stored on endpoints and delivered via e-mail, Web, and instant messaging. For consumers, Norton Online Backup lets up to five PCs or Macs within a single household automatically back data up to the company's Internet-based data vault, with the ability to search and share that data.

Symform's Cooperative Storage Cloud breaks a copy of a customer's backup into 64-MB blocks, scrambles those blocks with AES-256 encryption, fragments those blocks into 1-MB fragments, adds 32 1-MB parity fragments for redundancy, and then scatters those 96 fragments to cloud storage nodes around the world. Those nodes come from each customer designating a small part if its own storage capacity to be used as storing fragments of other companies' data.

Vembu StoreGrid, which enables solution providers to quickly build their own branded storage cloud, now lets MSPs resell storage services 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.It also provides clustering and load balancing, as well as the ability to replicate data directly to the Amazon Simple Storage Service storage cloud.

Zenith Infotech provides solution providers the technology to offer managed services, virtual help desk and disaster recovery to SMB customers. The company's Backup and Disaster Recovery offering pioneered the hybrid cloud storage concept. It includes a disk-based backup appliance for local backups and sends those backups in near-real-time to the cloud as often as every 15 minutes.

Zetta develops technology to help solution providers build a cloud-based storage infrastructure that can replace an SMB's primary storage hardware. Zetta Enterprise Cloud Storage delivers enterprise-class storage services like data snapshots, replication and full redundancy without the need for extra hardware, all the while acting like a primary storage array. It offers data protection, data integrity, security and privacy starting at 25 cents, per GByte, per month with minimum performance guarantees.