Cloud storage vendor Cleversafe funded by CIA

Cleversafe has added thin provisioning and new security features to its cloud storage platform, and has received a significant round of funding from the CIA's venture capital arm.

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Cloud storage vendor Cleversafe received more than $20 million in funding from several investment groups, including In-Q-Tel, a branch of the CIA that invests in start-up firms. According to Cleversafe, the money will be used for expansion and comes from new and existing investors.

Rick Villars, vice president of storage strategies at research firm IDC, said the investment should lead to a better product that will "allow organisations to safely store large volumes of data using cloud architectures" while also saving money through more efficient use of existing storage assets.

Cleversafe sells object-based storage software, which allows metadata and primary data to be stored together, making it searchable no matter where it resides on a public or private network.

Cleversafe said it has added several new features to version 2.3 of its cloud storage software, including thin provisioning and disk balancing. Thin provisioning allows storage to be allocated on an as-needed basis for applications instead of the more typical over-provisioning methods used by admins today.

The new disk-balancing feature detects when individual hard drives in an array are beginning to fill with data and then migrates the data to disks with more capacity, balancing the load. The feature, which begins migrating data when disk capacity hits 50%, increases overall system performance, according to Cleversafe CEO Chris Gladwin.

Cleversafe's technology, which it calls Dispersed Storage, works by using a mathematical formula called the Cauchy Reed-Solomon Information Dispersal Algorithm to divide data before storing it. The divided or "sliced" data, as Cleversafe calls it, is spread across multiple storage nodes, typically across three or four data centres. Like RAID, the algorithm uses parity information to ensure that if any slices of data are lost or become corrupted, they can be rebuilt from the other slices.

Cleversafe uses three devices in its product offering: An Accesser node, which slices up and then retrieves data, the Slicestor, which is the storage array that holds the data and the Manager, a client that manages the storage network and offers various capacity reporting tools.

All data is stored under a single domain name space, so storage capacity appears as a single pool to a client server. Because each slice of data cannot be reassembled without the use of metadata held in a central database, and it's unrecognisable otherwise, it is inherently secure, Gladwin said.

In its latest software release, Cleversafe has added Transport Layer Security and Secure Sockets Layer to its network manager, further increasing the security around the stored data. Gladwin said the added security would be appreciated by public cloud storage providers, since it gives them secure network connections between the Accesser and the Slicestor node. "Now you can actually do [public] cloud storage and yet maintain the security that meets whatever level of need you have and even exceed it," Gladwin said.

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