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«IDC OPINION Companies of all sizes, including enterprise and midsize, are seeing an increased dependency on technology that is significantly ...»


Gridstore: A Different Approach to Scale Out Storage

Amita Potnis Ashish Nadkarni


Companies of all sizes, including enterprise and midsize, are seeing an increased

dependency on technology that is significantly increasing the amount of data generated. The key expectation from a modern IT infrastructure is to maintain a www.idc.com balance between quality of service, providing uninterrupted service, compliance, and data protection, making management complicated. Adding to that, the difficult economic times put enormous pressure on IT personnel across companies to achieve this balance through maximizing the use of existing infrastructure and reducing costs.

F.508.935.4015 Midsize companies, while facing the same data growth challenges as the enterprise, need to solve these challenges with multifunctional IT personnel and tighter budgets.

Companies no longer saw the benefit of deploying traditional monolithic systems owing to the proliferation of data as performance, and capacity upgrades typically P.508.872.8200 required folklifting existing storage solutions and painful migration processes, not to mention increased expenses. As companies started looking for alternative storage solutions, vendors responded in kind by bringing to market scale-out storage architecture that would allow users to grow their infrastructure on an as-needed basis.

Scale-out architecture gave users the benefit of linearly scaling capacity and/or Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA 01701 USA performance in a modular fashion while keeping management

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Company Overview Gridstore, a venture-backed company headquartered in Mountain View, California, was founded in January 2009. To date, Gridstore has raised $12.5 million in series A capital from GGV Capital and ONSET Ventures.

In December 2009, Gridstore brought to market its Grid-based scale-out storage solution based on The Grid, a combination of software and hardware. At the core of The Grid is a virtual storage controller called the vController. The vController serves as a replacement for a physical controller used in a traditional storage stack. In a traditional storage stack, data is funneled from the storage nodes to the clients through a physical controller that controls I/O from the disks and network. As the storage pool and clients grow, the physical controller needs to be upgraded to better service performance and avoid bottlenecks resulting in additional expenses.

Gridstore's vController is software that is installed on every client that would connect to the storage nodes within a storage pool, thus eliminating the need for a physical controller. The vController installed on each client directly connects to a Gridstore storage pool. A storage pool is a collection of Gridstore GS-1000 storage nodes. The Windows-based 1U GS-1000 can support one 1TB or 2TB SATA drive with an Intel Atom Processor and 2GB DDR2 RAM. Each GS-1000 supports one 1GbE connection. A storage pool can have several volumes. Each volume within a storage pool can be configured independently for fault tolerance, capacity, and specific physical storage nodes that will contribute to that volume. A Gridstore volume appears as a standard Microsoft Windows Network Share via MMC snap-in with a drive letter to end users and applications. For additional capacity, mode GS-1000 storage nodes can be added to the storage grid. The Gridstore Management Console finds the freshly added storage nodes, and existing volumes can be expanded or new volumes can be created.

The storage nodes primarily accelerate performance as most processing is done at the client side, and they also increase reliability. The Grid is designed for failover and provides increased reliability. For example, when a client writes data to a storage volume, it calculates the redundancy using what Gridstore calls G P.

is based on erasure coding technology, leveraged by several leading industry players. This reduces the overhead of replication and allows users to configure as many redundant nodes as required within a volume to safeguard against component or drive failure. Users have the ability to access data in case of storage node failures. Based on the calculation, data is sliced into pieces equal to the number of storage nodes in a volume and written to in parallel by the client. Similarly, a client

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As users grow on a virtual storage grid, the virtual controllers grow organically as well.

Since processing is done at the client side, each additional client (and therefore a vController) increases processing power. By doing so, Gridstore claims significant performance improvement. The vController also maintains a list of storage nodes and can directly access any storage node within the storage pool.

Gridstore allows its users to leverage existing storage infrastructure by combining it into a storage grid. Data from existing storage infrastructure is spread across storage nodes within the grid to eliminate single points of failure. According to Gridstore, the aggregation of performance and capacity through several smaller components while incorporating existing storage infrastructure leads to a larger reliable and affordable

storage grid. This approach tackles the very core issues that midsize companies face:

increased data growth, reduced IT budgets, and limited skilled IT personnel.

Company Strategy

Gridstore has an indirect sales strategy and sells its solution through resellers. The company is predominantly focused on the United States and Japan. It has plans to expand in Europe and has set foot in the United Kingdom in the recent past. Sales through resellers will give Gridstore exposure to a relevant audience not just domestically but across regions and help create its brand image.

The company's existing customer base is in the small and midsize enterprise and departments within large enterprises. Its pay-as-you-grow model allows it to be scalable within businesses of all sizes. The company claims to have experienced 100% growth since its initial launch and has 30 customers, including Clackamas Community College, Interweb Technology Group, Heritage Bank, and Diamond Point.

Gridstore focuses on companies that are suffering from an influx of data and can no longer afford to scale with traditional storage architectures.


Gridstore's go-to-market plan positions itself as a low-budget, high-performance, highly reliable storage grid for midsize companies. Gridstore's solution has been used by several users for various use cases including primary storage, backup and archive, and cloud. In a short span, Gridstore has expanded its vertical base to education, media and entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, and more. While the solution is appealing from an ease-of-use and upgrade perspective, it is also cost attractive for midsize organizations. Currently, the Grid supports file data but looks to support block as well in 2013. However, like every other aspiring new vendor in the market, Gridstore faces the challenge of creating its brand image as an affordable, reliable, and experienced storage player.

©2012 IDC #237295 3 The midrange storage class held 48.2% share of total worldwide external revenue in IDC's 2Q12 Disk Storage Systems Tracker. IDC expects that the midrange storage class will soon cross the 50% revenue share milestone and believes it to be the fastest-growing class. The projected demands on storage create an opportunity for Gridstore to gain mindshare and market share in the coming months as it plans to expand globally.


Advice for Gridstore Gridstore's approach to simplify storage management and improve performance and capacity at a fraction of the cost will resonate well with midsize companies that constantly struggle with the challenges of data growth, tightened budgets, and limited resources. Gridstore's plans to expand sales through resellers will give it traction in

the midmarket globally. To expand its horizon, Gridstore must:

 Standardize on its product terminology. Interchangeable use of NASg for The Grid, virtual storage controller for vController, or RAIDg for is very confusing not only for customers but also for channel partners.

 Stay focused to penetrate the midmarket by recruiting specific partners that focus on this segment.

 Expand its support for partners and customers through necessary and targeted marketing materials as it continues to expand into various verticals.


Related Research  Worldwide File-Based Storage 2012–2016 Forecast: Solutions for Content Delivery, Virtualization, Archiving, and Big Data Continue to Expand (IDC #235910, July 2012)  Worldwide Storage and Virtualized x86 Environments 2012–2016 Forecast (IDC #235868, July 2012)  Worldwide File-Based Storage 2011–2015 Forecast: Foundation Solutions for Content Delivery, Archiving, and Big Data (IDC #231910, December 2011)  Worldwide Archival Storage Solutions 2011–2015 Forecast: Archiving Needs Thrive in an Information-Thirsty World (IDC #230762, October 2011)

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This IDC research document was published as part of an IDC continuous intelligence service, providing written research, analyst interactions, telebriefings, and conferences. Visit www.idc.com to learn more about IDC subscription and consulting services. To view a list of IDC offices worldwide, visit www.idc.com/offices. Please contact the IDC Hotline at 800.343.4952, ext. 7988 (or +1.508.988.7988) or sales@idc.com for information on applying the price of this document toward the purchase of an IDC service or for information on additional copies or Web rights.

Copyright 2012 IDC. Reproduction is forbidden unless authorized. All rights reserved.

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