Zetta Wants To Make The Cloud Better

The evolution of Cloud computing took a unique direction this week with new boys Zetta openly challenging EMC, NetApp and other NAS System providers with its Enterprise Cloud Storage service. After months of beta testing and evaluations, Zetta is offering to handle original copies of customers' important data hence showcasing the cloud as an alternate and more cost effective method of storing tier-2 data than NAS. Going against the current trend of Cloud computing which has focused on inactive data such as archives, backups or disaster recovery copies, Zetta is trying something new - something which always grabs my attention and deserves a blog. So how does it work?

To allow data to be sent to the cloud, Zetta has developed its own file system instead of a customary Application Programming Interface. Incorporated within their proprietary file system are continual data integrity checks and data distribution over hardware nodes in an N+3 redundant configuration. With such a premise it’s obvious why they can boldly aim at enterprise data storage shops of 10 TB or greater, posing themselves as the new primary file system for tier-2 applications.

Based on just three layers i.e. a protocol translation, a file system management and a data management layer, the protocol translation layer provides the necessary NFS, CIFS, http or FTP access into its cloud for customers’ on site applications. Volume virtualization and quality of service management are also performed at this layer. Additionally customers receive write receipt confirmations that their data has been stored successfully via an inline data verification which uses a hashing algorithm. Once that data is stored the inline data verification performs continuously to keep tabs on any problems with data integrity, availability or performance. This leads the file system management layer to be handled by Zetta internally while the data management layer is responsible for where the data is stored. A fairly straightforward procedure which alleviates the burdens many enterprises are facing running in house data centers.

Currently with two data centers in Silicon Valley and plans to add facilities in New Jersey, Virginia, the Chicago area, Texas and Southern California over the next two years, Zetta’s pricing of just $0.25 per gigabyte per month, for a minimum of 1TB sounds a cost effective solution, that has the potential of taking off in the current economic climate.

But as with every great new idea and concept it's a given to have the image of a Storage Manager scrupulously assessing the risk of asking the CIO to place his company in a situation which is currently going against the grain. I myself already have reservations on whether Zetta themselves can make a success of this or not simply based on the fact that they will have to pitch to a Data Center Manager or Storage Manager a solution which indirectly makes the recipient less effective in their roles!

That doesn’t deviate from the fact that if the foundations of this direction of cloud storage service can be proven, we are on the crest of witnessing an exciting future transition to the cloud. Coupled with the news that HP have shown interest in going the same route, Zetta may just be onto something…..