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After close to two years of preparation in Ireland, Gridstore has opened its doors in Palo Alto, Calif., and is taking the wraps of its first offering targeted at managed service providers. NASg is an enterprise-class storage platform that delivers unlimited storage capacity, network bandwidth and processing capacity on existing Network Attached Storage resources. It is built around the NASg Storage Block, an Intel/Microsoft-based storage node with embedded Windows XP, an Intel Atom core, 1GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of SATA hard disk drives that starts at $300 per unit. Gridstore’s software will work with any Windows-based NAS device so customers don’t have to throw out existing hardware, says CEO and co-founder Kelly Murphy. Plus Unix and Linux capabilities will be added in the future, he adds.

The company is launching a public beta for MSPs, with the full roll-out expected in late Q1 2010. The target audience is the $30-billion SMB storage space that consumes 80-85 percent of storage capacity.

"At the high end of the market are enterprise-class solutions that are scalable and expensive, proprietary and complex. The vendors have tried to move down market but their products really overshoot the small business market"

Small businesses are using NAS, but the key features lead to problems of storage sprawl, silos, high costs, complex management, and high risk because of the potential for a single point of failure when something happens to the hardware, says Murphy.

"The gap we’re trying to address is the standalone NAS that SMBs can afford and use. NASg delivers scalability, performance and reliability of enterprise storage, but without the price tag or the complexity."

This is a huge market opportunity, says Murphy. According to IDC, storage consumption is growing at more than 60 percent per year, so small businesses need to double their storage every 12 to 18 months. Throw in the fact that 95 percent of file requests are for data that is less than 30 days old, and new machines instantly get maxed out. "Once it maxes out, you need to go and buy another system, and quite often you leave unused capacity on the existing resources.

NASg enables customers to add as many nodes as required and each node adds storage and network bandwidth so there is unlimited scale for capacity and bandwidth, says Murphy. "By shifting the processing to the storage nodes, it allows us to use low-cost devices. He says a Gridstore solution would cost about one third the price of a comparable NAS, and it would eliminate storage sprawl.

According to Gridstore, the key benefits of NASg include: unlimited storage nodes in a single pool of storage; unlimited network bandwidth — every storage node adds 1 Gb/s of parallel network bandwidth so that as the number of storage nodes increases, each storage node performs less work and the parallel data path to the NASg increases; unlimited processing capacity — with storage processing being performed on the client machine, NASg is able to eliminate server-based processing bottlenecks, and as more clients are added to the NASg, more parallel processing power is also added to the grid; and unlimited reliability – by leveraging the processing power of the client machines, NASg stripes data across many storage nodes so that there is no single point of failure which means any pre-configured number of storage nodes can fail without data loss or downtime.

There are a number of benefits to MSPs, says Murphy, including easy scalability as more clients are added, reduced service problems and higher revenues. "This completely eliminates the need to go onsite and with the prices customers will save about two-and-a-half X and MSPs will earn about 4X."