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Cirtas emerges with Bluejet cloud data storage appliance

Sonia Lelii

NEW YORK -- Cirtas Systems came out of stealth today at Storage Decisions with its Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller, a cloud

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data storage appliance that sits at the customer site and looks like a storage array to servers but stores data offsite.

Cirtas bills Bluejet as a hybrid appliance that provides onsite primary storage that can be managed locally while delivering cost benefits of cloud storage. The appliance includes data and storage management features such as thin provisioning, LUN masking, snapshots, host-to-volume mapping, automated data tiering, data deduplication, data compression and remote replication. It stores data through connectors to cloud storage providers – Amazon and Iron Mountain have signed on so far, and Cirtas expects to add more partners.

"We have a product that makes cloud storage look like local storage," Cirtas VP of marketing Josh Goldstein said. "And we are making the cloud cheaper. It's sort of the best of both worlds. You can get SAN level performance for data you use day- to-day but it's always in the cloud. We can have data on the Bluejet memory but it's in the cloud as well. This is a way of getting into a new efficient model while only paying for what you use."

Goldstein said while the cloud's advantages include cost and eliminating the need to manage hardware and software, there can be performance tradeoffs, security problems, and issues with making application compatible with third-party cloud providers APIs. That's why Cirtas takes a hybrid approach, he said.

Bluejet provides a standard iSCSI interface to servers. Pricing starts at $69,995 with a minimum capacity configuration of 3.5 TB. Customers can buy additional licenses in 20 TB chunks. Bluejet's features include CloudLock Data Security, CloudCache and CloudReduce. CloudLock encrypts data in transit to the cloud and when it is at rest. CloudCache is an automated tier of RAM, solid state drives and hard disk to accelerate transfers to and from the cloud. CloudReduce deduplicates and compresses data to reduce bandwidth requirements.

Other features include CloudSnap for space-efficient snapshots and CloudConnect to help manage connections to multiple cloud providers and eliminate the need to re-write applications to proprietary APIs.

Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja said Bluejet could help make cloud data storage a viable option for primary storage. Until now, he said, the cloud has been used mainly for backup and archiving. Taneja said Cirtas' data deduplication and compression make its product stand out.

"If this product performs as advertised, it will fundamentally change how we think about the cloud," he said. "That is the kind of impact this product could have on the market. What Cirtas does is extremely powerful. This is the kind of stuff that can make the cloud real. This is one of the few companies making (cloud) storage look like primary storage."

Other startups offering cloud gateways for primary storage include Nasuni Corp., Panzura, StorSimple and TwinStrata. All have launched either hardware or virtual appliances this year to connect to the cloud. Cirtas received $10 million in its first funding round, with Amazon joining venture capitalist firms NEA and Lightspeed Venture Partners as investors. Cirtas CEO and founder Dan Decasper said Amazon's investment would not prevent Cirtas from working with other cloud providers. "(Amazon) is not a controlling investor," he said. "We can partner with any cloud provider."

Cirtas claims 18 beta customers, and the product becomes generally available today through VARs.