LINUXWORLD SF - Zmanda, Cleversafe debut open storage

Two storage companies, Zmanda and Cleversafe, launched software and open source projects this week at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

In April, Zmanda rolled out Zmanda Network and its Amanda Enterprise Edition backup and recovery software for Linux, Unix, Windows, Macintosh and NetWare networks; at LinuxWorld the company announced that the Amanda backup support now covers Windows and Solaris operating systems.

Meanwhile, Cleversafe announced the formation of an open source project to build a geographically dispersed storage grid to protect customer data.

Zmanda is a company much like Red Hat and XenSource in that it provides commercialized versions and support for specific open source software. In Zmanda's case, the software is the AMANDA (Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver) backup utility, which was developed and placed in the public domain by the University of Maryland in 1992.

Amanda, which is available in a commercial edition from Zmanda or in a public domain edition from sourceforge.net, has had more than 170,000 downloads and 20,000 customers.

Ross Vandegrift, network operations administrator for US-based Hostmysite, is one of them.

"We use a number of different distributions of Amanda. Our servers run the stable distribution from sourceforge.net and our clients run the client suite provided by the vendor of the operating system they are running," says Vandegrift.

While Vandegrift has not used Zmanda's distribution nor has their support services, he would welcome it.

"I haven't actually used Zmanda's version - we do not currently have a support contract," says Vandegrift. "In the long term, I think a number of people at our company would sleep better at night with their support. In the same way I know that if my car breaks, there's an expert mechanic I can take it to, I know that if my Amanda breaks, there's an expert I can call in."

Zmanda's Enterprise Version, sold as a subscription through Zmanda, starts at US$100 for the Amanda Backup Server, US$100 for each client operating system server and US$50 for each desktop client it backs up.

Cleversafe was founded in 2004 to build and deploy a better way to secure the world's data -- the company developed the Linux File System project -- also on sourceforge.net -- which allows Linux computers to store information to a dispersed storage grid called the Cleversafe Research Storage Grid that appears as a single mountable file system. The company is expected to offer commercial dispersed data storage services and software for companies building their own commercial dispersed storage grids.

The Linux File System separates data into 11 parts and distributes them over the Internet to 11 storage hosting facilities in North America. Data distributed is protected and secure in that it is parsed up according to an algorithm called Turbo Information Dispersal Algorithms (IDA). Using the algorithm, the Cleversafe technology scrambles the data at these locations and throughout the world and places it in separate locations. With dispersed storage, transmission and storage of data is inherently private and secure since no single entire copy of the data is stored in one location. With Cleversafe IDA, up to five of the 11 storage locations can fail at the same time, and users can continue to store and retrieve data.

So far there are 63 members of the Cleversafe community on sourceforge.net, where the software can be downloaded. Almost 800 downloads have taken place since the grid was announced in April of this year. Cleversafe software runs on Red Hat, CentOS, Debian and Fedora Linux.

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