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GoGrid introduces Cloud Storage v0.7, a virtual NAS in the clouds

The hosting veterans at GoGrid announce persistent network attached storage for virtual machines in their cloud.

In an announcement that I feel the "cloud-o-sphere" has been strangely silent on, GoGrid on Thursday announced a new sharable file-level storage service for their cloud infrastructure, Cloud Storage v0.7. Michael Sheehan, GoGrid's technology evangalist explains:

GoGrid Cloud Storage is an instantly scalable and reliable file-level storage service for Windows and Linux servers running in the GoGrid Cloud...GoGrid Windows & Linux cloud servers are able to mount GoGrid Cloud Storage using a secure private network and common transfer protocols such as SCP, FTP, SAMBA/CIFS and RSYNC to move data back and forth from Cloud Storage. The Cloud Storage service is dynamically scalable and charged on a pay-as-you-use basis.

Pricing is as follows:

  • Initial 10 GB Cloud Storage is FREE
  • Additional storage is $0.15/GB per month. For example, if you use an additional 100 GB’s of storage, the cost would be $15/month, giving you 110 GB of storage.
  • Zero set-up fee
  • Zero long-term commitment
  • You are billed for your peak usage during any particular month. For example if you spike to 110 GB during a month and then scale back to 60 GB, you are charged for the peak of 100GB (or $15)
  • Since Cloud Storage is attached to your private network, there is no charge for data transfer back and forth between is and your GoGrid Cloud Servers

Features include:

  • 10 GB FREE Cloud Storage
  • FREE data transfer to and from your GoGrid Cloud servers and GoGrid Cloud Storage
  • Can be used as a “file level backup” (note: there are no tools to automate this backup; you must provide your own solution)
  • Servers access Cloud Storage using transfer protocols like SCP, FTP, SAMBA/CIFS and RSYNC
  • GoGrid Windows and Linux Cloud servers can share the same storage quota
  • On-the-fly provisioning which means instant scalability
  • Storage utilization graphs available within the GoGrid UI (see screenshots in the section below)
This is exciting to me for several reasons. First, we are talking a true NAS-like model here; Cloud Storage devices can be attached to any number of servers, and treated just like any other shared drive--only it's a dynamically scalable shared drive that grows as your storage needs grow. Second, with the combination of Cloud Storage and their support for multicast, GoGrid is the only cloud I know that supports just about any clustering and caching software out there.

Finally, GoGrid CEO John Keagy, CTO Randy Bias and I spoke about some of the things this frees them to address in the future, including their current "always on" pricing plan--they noted they were toying with continuing their current Gigabyte RAM-hour charging for powered-on devices, but switching to a per-storage cost for powered off devices. (It is important to note that every GoGrid server has persistant local storage.)

Sheehan also notes some "catches", such as the fact that you can have only one Cloud Storage device per account, and that API support direct to the device is not yet available (thus the pre-1.0 versioning).

If they address the pricing issue (making it much cheaper to turn off a box than keep it running, just as in the Amazon model), then they overcome one of my biggest remaining issues with the GoGrid service. Cloud Storage addresses a fundamental need for clustered applications, and they already had both Windows and Linux images available, multicast and an awesome user interface (that Google highlighted for its use of GWS recently). My final enhancement request is some way to persist a customized image should the cloud server(s) get corrupted somehow...either a self-service image repository (ala AMIs on AWS) or a point-and-click backup service of some kind.

With Amazon's relative dominance of the Infrastructure as a Service model, it is good to see the advances that the alternatives are making. Cloud Storage from GoGrid is a case in point.