Small company looks to scale big with cloud storage

Some companies need enterprise-grade storage even when they are small startups, but it can be a challenge to balance performance and cost.

That’s the situation Montreal-based found itself. Initially the firm turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to quickly and easily scale its storage as its customer base grew. However, AWS became insufficient when the company had specific requirements, realizing it had to compliment that service with something more robust.’s main application is CosmosSync, a mobile collaboration tool used extensively by companies in the automotive industry, including repair shops and rental car agencies, to document status of cars brought into their facility and share that information later with someone else. For example, a body repair shop might have to share data with an insurance company.

CosmosSync enables users to walk around the shop using their smart phone and yet still store, synch and collaborate with the team.
The tool also enables users to upload a great deal of content, including photos and video. Body shop owners, for example, can take a tremendous number of photos of cars, and also retain documents about their repair, all of which are uploaded to a server to be stored and later shared with insurers for payment approvals.

Company CTO Thomas Bouvrette was involved in defining the cloud storage requirements about two years ago, and initially trialed AWS’ S3 storage for this application. “AWS was our first choice because of the price,” he said. “They were big and could scale as we scale.”

However, AWS started to show some limitations as grew and evolved. For example, the company has to be able to rename folders and alter the base structure, which AWS didn’t easily support. So Bouvrette began to look for other options.

Ultimately, the firm chose Zadara Storage, which it now uses in combination with its AWS compute resources. It now has an estimated 6TB of storage from Zadara hosted at an Equinix data centre, with backup to AWS S3 set up as an add-on service for another layer of redundancy. The Zadara resources are collocated from nearby AWS data centres via high-speed fiber lines to ensure extremely low latency and easy scalability.

Bouvrette manages his storage via an online management interface from which he can change storage levels, media, controllers and any additional specialized features, such as Docker container support, on the fly. “Zadara is easy to maintain on our side.”

The Zadara storage the company uses is also dedicated to and not shared with anyone else, providing it with isolated resources and no “noisy neighbor” problems that can happen when other tenants impact service levels. And similar to AWS, it is only billed for the storage that is consumed. Zadara takes care of all provisioning, operation, maintenance and upgrades.

For a small organization, this model is a no-brainer, but Bouvrette was looking for additional functionality common to enterprise. Zadara’s ability to handle data snapshots, a typical enterprise-grade storage requirement for traditional on-premise storage gear but not often found for cloud storage deployment, was pivotal for For example, customers sometimes accidentally delete their data or find they have some other on-site data corruption issue. Bouvrette was able to create rules in Zadara to capture a snapshot every hour so restoration is a breeze if a CoscmosSync customer calls in a panic to restore their data.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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