Cloud

Under the Radar: Judging cloud storage startups

Larry Dignan is doing homework on four startups he'll be judging Friday at the Under the Radar conference. The companies have a common theme -- online cloud storage backup for small and medium sized businesses -- but differ in their approaches.

This is a guest post from Larry Dignan of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

I'll be a judge Friday on the data management panel at the Under the Radar conference, an American Idol-ish bake-off for cloud computing startups. My assignment: Do a little homework on the companies I'll be judging.

The companies -- Axcient, Ctera, Engyte, and Sonian -- have a common theme: Online cloud storage backup for small and medium sized businesses.

Where they differ is their approaches. For instance, Axcient touts that it doesn't need software. Axcient is a storage appliance that backs up data on its hardware and in the cloud. The target is small and mid-sized businesses.

Ctera has a similar theme with one key twist: The company expects to be bundled as a service sold by telecom and broadband providers. That's a helluva a channel. Ctera has a neat little device called the CloudPlug that can turn any external USB drive into a network file server with online backup. 

Both of those aforementioned companies clearly see appliances and the cloud being a big selling point.

Egnyte has a similar plan, but leverages the hard drive that customers already have. Engyte is a software based service the turns a drive into a cloud connected file server. Egnyte is picking the local cloud that bridges online and on-premise storage. 

The big question for Axcient, Ctera and Egnyte is how do they plan to compete with larger players, notably EMC, which is pursuing a similar SMB market by connecting Mozy and Iomega together. 

And then there's Sonian, which targets larger businesses-mid-sized and up-looking for e-discovery help. I still need to bone up on Sonian a bit, but it already gets props for picking the hottest market. E-discovery is a big deal for compliance-burdened companies looking to archive email and other regulatory requirements (see TechRepublic special report). 

Sonian has gone completely the enterprise 2.0 route and has built its business on Amazon's cloud architecture. The challenge for Sonian is the same as the others: How do you compete with larger players and convince customers that you'll be around?

In any case, it should be an interesting bunch of presentations. Should you have any questions for these folks drop them in the talkback below.

11 comments
bboyd
bboyd

I have a user that has reinfected his laptop three times from backup devices. Are these services going to provide that same "Feature"?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

how did the infection get there in the first place?

bboyd
bboyd

Regular user issues. Hopefully his painful experience will cure him of the habits. Until then I want to keep his virii from cross pollinating.

Director-Matt
Director-Matt

We, at Data Storage Corporation, privat-label the Sonian e-discovery solution and find it to be a wonderful complement to our full-service Online Enterprise Storage & Recovery solution (Data Vaulting). It takes our standard email archiving one step further in client usability.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

The cloud is like leaving your garage door open while on vacation.

robo_dev
robo_dev

For many people the data is more secure in 'the cloud' than your local PC. On many home PCs, Joe-user has some old Maxtor 40 gig drive on a PC with outdated AV software, no UPS, an unpatched version of XP, and Windows firewall as his only protection. He's got spyware and virues he does not even know he has. His keystrokes are being logged by a virus and some rootkit is sending his credit card numbers to a hacker in Amsterdam. He's one power-surge away from that old Maxtor hard drive going Tango Uniform, and his idea of 'backup' is is putting the car in reverse. Versus the cloud: you're connecting using SSL to a SAS-70 Type2 certified data center where your data is on a mirrored Storage Area Network with 99.999 availability. That data center, with it's redundant cooling and power, is staffed 24x7 and there are redundant processors, servers, networks, etc. And the data is spread and obfuscated, so your data is shared across hundreds of servers in the data center and the file names are randomly assigned. The controls in place are no different than those your bank uses, your drivers license bureau, your credit card company, etc, etc. If you trust some old clunky State run data center to have your drivers license information, and even your fingerprints, why can't people trust some state-of-the-art data center to store their various old copies of their Resume, their porn collection and their music files?

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

straight to the point, no BS, and on completely correct! And, it makes sense as well.