Google-style storage comes to the SMB

Google and Amazon have really low storage costs because they skipped the costly RAID arrays offered by big storage companies. Now that technology is available for prosumers and small businesses - at a really low price.

Google and Amazon have really low storage costs because they skipped the costly RAID arrays offered by big storage companies. Now that technology is available for prosumers and small businesses - at a really low price.

Gridstore is offering a low-cost, scale-out network file server for $500 a node. That is too cheap for the enterprise storage companies to sell directly.

Founded 4 years ago, Gridstore got a beta out last year, and have been shipping for 9 months. They are a Microsoft CIFS protocol file server, using Microsoft's storage server software. Running on small Atom-based boxes, a 6 node configuration is the size of a bread box.

Enterprise quality - small business price Like other scale-out NAS systems, the Gridstore NAS has no single point of failure and can survive multiple node failures without going down or losing data.

They call their redundancy scheme RAIDg. When you set up a volume you dial in how many faults you want to survive and the software handles the rest.

Today the number of faults they can handle is limited to half the number of nodes minus one. If you have a 6 node configuration it can handle the loss of 2 nodes. They expect to relax that requirement in the future.

Cluster control Clusters aren't all good. They have some exotic failure modes such as split-brain and malicious nodes.

Gridstore handles these with distributed control of the cluster: each node is looking at the other nodes and they vote. Simple and workmanlike.

Pricing A 12TB 6 node grid retails for $4400. Additional 2 TB nodes are $599.

This may sound like a lot if you're used to buying USB drives, but for protected storage it is a bargain. Most enterprise vendors charge $2k or more per terabyte.

The Storage Bits take Downsizing standard array technology for small business is not a long-term strategy. RAID arrays are too fussy and complex for most small businesses to manage.

The scale-out cluster model offers better scale and easier management as well as potentially better fault tolerance. While Gridstore seems to be first to market with this model, they won't be the last.

Comments welcome, of course. Sadly, I don't have any business relationship with Gridstore.