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Peer 1 setting up Atmos cloud storage

Hundreds of terabytes

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Hundreds of terabytes of EMC's Atmos storage are going to be used by Peer 1, a North American hosting company, in a cloud storage service.

Atmos is EMC's dedicated storage platform for storage in the cloud as opposed to direct-attach storage (DAS), network-attached storage (NAS), and storage area network (SAN) arrays.

Peer 1 Network Enterprises Inc is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and has 16 data centres in 13 locations in the USA and Canada and one in the UK, at Southampton. It offers managed hosting, dedicated hosting and co-location services.

The company was founded in 1999 in Canada and expanded into the USA through acquisitions of ServerBeach in 2004 and the managed hosting assets of Interland in 2005. The UK data centre opened in April this year with three rack cabinets. It now has 54.

Peer 1 intends to offer a storage in the cloud service to its customers and is buying hundreds of terabytes of EMC Atmos capacity to be installed in two of its largest US data centres, chosen from Atlanta, Miami and San Antonio. These Atmos facilities will be incorporated in its SuperNetwork and the cloud storage service should go live in the first quarter of next year, probably in March.

The selection process took six months. Fabio Banducci, Peer 1's president and CEO, said: "Strategically, we're not a research and development shop - we're looking for best of breed." This means Peer 1 did not want to buy-in raw components and build a cloud storage platform itself.

Peer 1 did technical diligence on six potential suppliers, including 3PAR, ByCast, EMC, Nirvanix and Parascale. Then it looked more closely at a short list in a business diligence exercise, with EMC being the winning supplier. Banducci said: "EMC had great commitment plus a storage background."

Why did Peer 1 choose EMC? Although EMC is the vendor for Peer 1's SAN offerings, "EMC for our cloud storage was not a shoo-in".

Banducci said the other firms, although they had promising early-stage technology, were generally newer in business than EMC, and less well funded, meaning they were riskier choices. EMC was also very committed to Atmos developments: "EMC is not just limited to storage... there are well north of 400 people in this [Atmos] division. It's spending millions of dollars a week on R & D for its cloud platform... It spends more R&D dollars in a week than 90 per cent of the hosting companies that choose to do it themselves... EMC made rapid progress over the project selection period. The roadmap is really impressive."

If all goes well the number of Peer 1 data centres fitted with Atmos gear will increase and it may even be the case that Peer 1 will offer Atmos compute services in the cloud.

In May EMC launched its own Atmos onLine service and AT&T introduced its Atmos-based Synaptic Storage as a Service. Since then little or nothing has been heard of other Atmos customers. Banducci said EMC in fact does have other Atmos customers, but neither EMC nor its customers are ready to go live yet.

He did say: "We'll be the first hosting provider to go live with Atmos." ®

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