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Why you wanna go and put STaaS in their eyes? Toshiba pays $3m for Zadara

Another 'X-as-a-service' upstart, but this time with cash

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Flash foundry operator Toshiba has invested $3m in a startup offering virtual private storage arrays in the cloud, citing a "unique and strong strategic fit" between the two companies.

Storage upstart Zadara offers its Virtual Private Storage Arrays (VPSAs) as storage-as-a-service, offering iSCSI or NFS-based storage. Customers can have their arrays hosted on Amazon Web Services, Rackspace or Dimension Data services. The VPSAs are connected to a customer's application servers and can use SAS or SATA disk drives and SSDs.

Zadara says it offers a single-tenant experience in a multi-tenant environment, with predictable performance, data security, high availability, encryption, clustering, DR mirroring, async replication, and abundant control and tuning options. Zadara offers limitless volumes at AWS US-East and US-West.

In general, Zadara purchases or leases hardware in cloud service providers' data centres and runs that hardware with its own software to provide VPSAs to its customers.

The services are either for primary storage or longer-term, archival-type storage. Both can scale to hundreds of terabytes of capacity with prices starting from around $0.10/GB/month.

Why are VPSAs better than Amazon's own S3 services? Zadara says it has:

  • 10x lower latency, much higher bandwidth
  • Ability to mount as NFS or iSCSI
  • Ability to share volumes between EC2 servers, eliminating the need for an additional file system in the middle
  • Encryption, including both data-at-rest, and data-in-flight with user controlled encryption key SSD caching built in
  • Instant snapshots, without performance impact
  • Asynchronous replication and remote mirroring

It says its VPSAs are "ideal for web applications that need to retrieve files at high performance" and "for applications that needs big repositories of storage but do not support S3 APIs."

Zadara history

Zadara was founded in 2011 by ex-StoreAge Networking execs. StoreAge produced a SAN virtualisation product and the company was bought by LSI in 2006 with HP OEM'ing the SVM technology for EVA array clustering. Both HP and LSI closed down their StoreAge-based operations in January, 2011.

The StoreAge execs joined LSI and then, when LSI closed SVM down, four of them started up Zadara, with development in Israel and offices in Irvine, California. There was a $7m A-round of funding in mid-2012, and a CEO change at roughly the same time. One co-founder, CTO Nelson Nahum, replaced another co-founder, then-CEO Mark Spowart, who is now VP for cloud business development at storage startup X-IO.

Tosh's investment

Now, a year later, Toshiba, through its Toshiba America Electronic Components (TAEC) division has dropped $3m into Zadara: "The two companies will be working together to introduce innovative Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) products using cutting-edge technologies they have each developed."

Right. What does that mean? George Bouchaya, a TAEC veep and CTO of its Institute of Strategic Storage Planning and Investment, said: "We see a unique and strong strategic fit between our two companies. Together we can make a significant impact that would not be possible without this strategic relationship."

That implies Tosh disk drives or SSDs will be used by Zadara, which was conformed by Nahum's canned quote: "By working closely with TAEC we can synergistically integrate disk drive and SSD components with storage software. The combination means unique and compelling cloud storage solutions as well as "€˜cold storage,"€™ or secondary storage, solutions."

The term "cold storage" is sometimes used to refer to sticking archival data in cheap flash instead of tape.

This investment by Tosh follows other flash product supplier's investments in startup storage array vendors:

The common thread seems to be that the flash product suppliers want to be able to tune their NAND storage products to meet flash-using startup storage array vendors' needs. On the other side of the coin, startup storage array vendors using flash want to get certainty into their flash supply chain. ®

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