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Clearpace puts archived data in the cloud

The software vendor introduces Rainstor, which uses Amazon's cloud tools to store customers' legacy data in the cloud.

Archiving-software vendor Clearpace is launching a cloud-based archive service for structured data.

The Rainstor service, which was announced on Thursday, is aimed at organizations running costly legacy applications in the data center, as it provides secure, off-site storage of structured data.

The new service runs on Amazon's S3 cloud infrastructure, using Amazon's EC2 for processing power. The idea behind the service is that by externalizing their legacy data into a cloud, businesses do not have to spend money on buying and servicing their own on-site, hardware-based storage, said Julian Cook, marketing and strategy director at Gloucester, U.K.-based Clearpace.

The Clearpace launch follows the announcement of EMC's Atmos online storage-as-a-service, which launched earlier this week at EMC World 2009. However, EMC's cloud offering is really designed to support unstructured data such as files and photos, said Henry Baltazar, a storage and systems analyst at the 451 Group.

"There really aren't many cloud-archiving options for structured data, because to archive structured data, you need a database application to provide the access," Baltazar said.

Clearpace expects most users of Rainstor to sign up through its independent software vendor partners, which currently embed its NParchive storage appliance. "Customers will use the appliance that we provide, and the ISV provides the necessary application," said Cook.

Customers signing up to the Rainstor service will be charged an all-inclusive fee of $1 (62p) per gigabyte, per month for the product.

Baltazar expects more archiving vendors to begin offering cloud-based services, as the security and management tools improve.

"I think it's still really early days, but we have seen a number of cloud services suitable for unstructured data from the likes of EMC. There is certainly a lot of demand for the same kind of service for structured data, if only because it could save a good deal of money if you can retire those seldom-used applications from the data center."

Sally Whittle of ZDNet UK reported from London.