Permabit Makes a Case for CAS

By Paul Shread

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Permabit has unveiled storage software that the start-up claims can reduce storage capacity needs by as much as 95%.

As if that weren't enough, Permabit's Permeon solution runs on standard non-proprietary servers, lowering total cost of ownership (TCO) and offering savings of as much as 50% over other content-addressed storage (CAS) offerings. Permeon requires no changes to existing applications, the start-up says, and it scales from workgroup to enterprise levels.

"The notion that one can leverage a software package to build an intelligent yet low-cost OOS (object-oriented storage) solution has the power to change how this segment of the storage market evolves," concludes a recent report on Permabit by Enterprise Storage Group research analyst Peter Gerr.

"Companies are struggling to cope with enterprise data volumes that are growing more than 70% per year," says ESG technology analyst Steve Kenniston. "Object-based storage is an emerging storage technology that's ideal for storing high volumes of data such as document images or medical records."

OOS systems differ from block or file arrays in that they store data in object form, says Gerr. Along with storing data in a unique format, these systems also provide the ability to associate meta data or other contextual information about an object such as subject, security permissions, or other keywords that can be indexed and searched on for faster retrieval.

Permabit was co-founded by MIT researchers Norm Margolus, who serves as chief scientist, and Tom Knight, who serves as an advisor. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company also named a new CEO, Randall Seidl, who was co-founder and EVP of sales and services at GiantLoop Network, CEO of Workgroup Solutions Inc., and spent 11 years as a sales and marketing executive at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC , where he was employee number 33.

Permabit says its CAS technology — a term borrowed from Seidl's former employer in Hopkinton — gives a unique content address to each piece of stored data based on actual content. This address enables data coalescence, where only changed data is saved, thus reducing storage capacity needs and lowering costs.

A Permeon storage system consists of Permeon software on a cluster of networked storage servers, portal servers, and a Web-based management console. Offerings are available for high-volume archival, backup and recovery, and reference information applications. Pricing starts at $20 per GB of storage capacity. Permeon's capacity scales from 1.6 TB to 40 TB, and performance scales up to 450GB/hour. With automated system management, storage servers can be added or removed without disrupting service.

Permabit also plans to offer an option for complying with emerging financial, healthcare, and defense industry regulations such as SEC Rule 17a-4, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and FDA 21 CFR Part 11, which require enterprises to maintain records for many years or even permanently.

Customers so far include Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, which uses Permeon to stores vast quantities of CAT scan and MRI data, and photo.net.

Rajeev Surati, chairman and founder of photo.net, says Permeon "is the only scalable, economical reference data storage solution. We evaluated other storage offerings from EMC and NetApp, but they could not meet our requirements to add storage capacity as we need it at an affordable price."

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