Nirvanix: The Cloud Beckons

In a bid to reduce the cost of mirroring remote data, Nirvanix rolls out a "Storage Delivery Network" for large media files.
Posted January 25, 2008
By

Drew Robb

Drew Robb


Just about any computer user has experienced the mushrooming of storage needs in recent years. And just about any company has seen its storage demands soar. But imagine the plight of those dealing with large media files such as video, audio, photographs and other graphics. Not only do they need an ever-increasing amount of capacity, they have real issues in managing and distributing that content efficiently.

Enter a new storage architecture by Nirvanix Inc. of San Diego, CA. Nirvanix has built a global cluster of storage nodes unified by patent-pending technologies including a virtual file system, collectively referred to as "The Storage Delivery Network" (SDN).

In storage terms, the SDN creates a global namespace transcending all the nodes. As a result, any Internet-enabled application can scale to meet the demands for hosting and delivering a huge number of media files, numbering in the millions. Integrated into the SDN are full management capabilities including all file system capabilities, file structures and a media services layer which allows for the plug-in to most consumer or business-facing applications.

"The Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network dramatically shortens time-to-market, reduces costs, and provides flexibility and control for businesses integrating Internet-scale online storage to their applications," said Jonathan Buckley, chief marketing officer at Nirvanix.

This tool will be of particular value to developers in helping them reduce time to market. The Application Programming Interface (API), for example, is simple and straightforward. It is available for review on the company website.

"The feedback from customers switching from Amazon S3 Storage is that this fact alone can save as much as two months," said Buckley.

Nirvanix comes with a host of other goodies to help with implementation. This includes complete folder structures, storage quota tools and other management tools so the developer does not need to build these as with Amazon or other online storage options.

"Nirvanix, for example, provides integrated transcoding and, depending on the application, with media rich applications, this can potentially save many months of development time," said Buckley.

As a further assist to its primary market, Nirvanix has a Developer Support Team and a Development Forum. Buckley reports that they have been established with a focus on quick turnaround in order to help speed development.

It is important to note that when developing to the Nirvanix API, the developer is connecting the application to a global storage network, not a filer or a data center. As the application grows globally, therefore, no additional development to new centers is needed in order to preserve user experience. The SDN automatically keeps the files proximate to the demand load as it shifts globally.

Nirvanix SDN is delivered as a web service. The client side operations are controlled by the particular application that has integrated the Nirvanix API. Nirvanix will shortly release CIFS, NFS and WebDAV and FTP mounts in addition to API integration.

The Nirvanix side has a two-part architecture with a virtual file system. The "core" of the system, based on a redundant SAN, holds all of the metadata and the bulk of the data sits in the "node" which is a massive RAID 6 assembly of disks. All nodes are clustered globally.

"We believe that emerging companies and corporate divisions in the future will forego the building, management and complexities involved in building their own data centers, and focus on what they do best -- developing their businesses," said Buckley. "The expression, ‘The box is dead' will be the moniker of 2008 as more services move to the cloud."

Early Users

Nirvanix has gained the support of a series of early adopters. One company called Enomaly Inc. of Toronto, Ontario, used Nirvanix SDN as the remote storage repository for its ElasticDrive backup application. SDN is also being pulled into such uses as managing user generated content from the home to the phone; consumer data backup applications; medical image storage and collaboration; Computer Aided Design archive and collaboration; and a tier of storage attached to a Content Delivery Network.

"Nirvanix handles single file sizes up to 256GB and transcoding is integrated," said Buckley. The service is priced at $0.18 per gigabyte per month of storage and $0.18 per gigabyte transferred. Additional customer support options are available at $160 per month for enhanced level, and $600 per month for premium.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.





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