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Technology / Data

OnApp plans storage market assault

Ditlev Bredahl OnApp

Ditlev Bredahl, founder and CEO, OnApp

OnApp, the cloud and content delivery network (CDN) specialist, is planning a major assault on the storage area network market towards the end of the year, CBR has learned. The move will take it into competition with the likes of EMC, HP, HDS, IBM, Dell and Oracle.

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In an exclusive interview with CBR, OnApp founder and CEO Ditlev Bredahl said the company will launch the beta version of a new kind of storage area network (SAN) in November this year, and the firm expects to start shipping the technology in January 2012.

Bredahl said the new storage technology is being built internally, with the project spearheaded by Julian Chesterfield, OnApp’s storage and virtualisation architect who joined the firm six months ago. Chesterfield was an early member of XenSource, the Cambridge University spinout company that developed Xen, the open source hypervisor acquired by Citrix in 2008. He was the storage development team lead and senior architect for both the XenServer and Xen products.

Bredahl said that amongst its hosting provider customers, storage arrays are considered expensive, especially as most hosting scenarios require complete redundancy in case of a failure. "Arrays are very expensive, especially when you probably need two of them, so many hosters use open source software and build SANs that work most of the time," Bredahl said. "Julian [Chesterfield] is helping us build a really strong SAN product that works across all hypervisors, all of the time."

"Let’s say you have 100 servers and 5 or 6 drives in each, we take all those drives and create a virtual SAN across all those devices," Bredahl said. "And if something fails it doesn’t matter because everything is n + 3 so you have three copies of all the data, sitting on these cheap white label, white box servers. It makes it much more redundant and much more scalable, and way, way cheaper. And you can use the infrastructure that you already use to build your clouds or whatever you are using those servers for."

OnApp, founded by Bredahl in July 2010, originally built technology that helps hosting providers turn basic hosting services into fully-fledged cloud services, adding the likes of multi-tenancy, resource management, user and billing management and high availability. Bredahl claims the firm has around 700 customers today, around 600 of which have already used OnApp to launch cloud services. He believes there is a total market of around 33,000 hosting providers, based on numbers from analyst firm The 451 Group.

In August OnApp bought content delivery network (CDN) technology firm Aflexi. That firm provides CDN technology to hosting providers, and since its acquisition OnApp has announced a collaborative CDN solution, which it says enables hosting providers to buy and sell PoP usage and bandwidth – effectively enabling hosters with only one or a small number of data centres to offer content delivery network services to clients by teaming up with other hosting providers.

Bredahl would not reveal the name of the new SAN technology coming out towards the end of the year, but he did say the code-name includes the word ‘Venture’, suggesting it’s currently code-named something like Storage Venture or SAN Venture.

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