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August 11, 2009

Clearpace looks to memory, cloud for long-term archival

Can technology offer 98% cost reduction?

By Jason Stamper

UK-based software company Clearpace believes it has built a better mousetrap when it comes to the issue of long-term database archiving, with claimed 40x compression of structured data and up to a 98% cost reduction.

The firm, which raised a further $4m in VC funding in February and was founded back in 2004, claims its NParchive technology enables companies to archive their structured data at a fraction of the cost and storage capacity of a more traditional RDBMS approach.

CEO John Bantleman told CBR in a recent interview that the firm’s technology is based on the idea of a data structure that can be run in-memory for speed of accessibility when it needs to be accessed or queried, combined with a few tricks which enable the same data structure to be stored on commodity disk for cost-effective long-term archival.

We took the benefits of an in-memory data structure and took it to disk, said Bantleman. We have the ability to be agnostic about storage.

The firm claims its approach means that it is able to archive off les frequently-accessed structured data with a storage utilisation saving of 95% over a traditional DBMS.

Archived data is held in an archive store, where it is readily available for supporting information discovery requests arising from regulatory investigations, litigation, internal audits or business analysis. No special tools are needed to query the data – NParchive supports ANSI standard SQL queries, as well as database-specific extensions. These queries can be submitted using existing business intelligence or reporting tools, including Business Objects, Crystal Reports, Cognos and Microstrategy.

Companies have little option but to look at technology like ours, Bantleman said. Archiving structured data off onto tapes has proved incredibly costly when firms have been faced with recovering it for legal reasons; putting it on tape is almost like you’ve already lost it — the last thing you want to have to do is to recover it from tape.

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Bantleman claims the firm’s NParchive structured data archiving technology can offer the benefits of tier one disk storage but with a cost saving of 95-98%. But he stresses that the technology is designed to store, any data that is not needed in the production environment: this is not a technology suited to transactional systems.

In late May, Clearpace launched a cloud-capable version of the technology, called RainStor. It is said to enable companies to store their archived data to private archives in the cloud using the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), but with the 40x compression benefits of NParchive.

RainStor compresses data by 40x before transferring encrypted data files,  providing rapid load times according to the firm. RainStor supports unlimited full SQL access to the archived data files using the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) through industry standard reporting tools and interfaces. The private archives are immutable and protected at all times using AES 256-bit encryption and SSL protocols ensuring archived data is always secure and immediately available, the firm said.

In July, the firm announced integration of NParchive onto EMC Centera boxes. The bottom line is that NParchive looks, smells and feels like a traditional database or data warehouse on the Centera platform without any of the headache or cost of managing data in those complex environments, said Bantleman.

Clearpace’s headquarters and development centre is in Gloucester, UK. Its primary investors are Doughty Hanson and Dow Investments.

Prior to Clearpace, Bantleman built LBMS into a $45m company that saw a successful IPO on Nasdaq, and was subsequently instrumental in the launch of Evolve, which also saw a Nasdaq flotation. He returned to the UK in 2003, and spent 12 months working on the advisory boards of venture capital organisations such as Apax Partners. He joined Clearpace as Chairman in 2004, continued as a Director, and became CEO at the start of 2007.


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