One of the hardest things IT administrators try to do is predict their storage needs for the coming year.

Adding to the enterprise storage area network is one option, cloud storage is another. But some organizations insist on data remaining in its data centre

A Toronto-area startup this spring will offer another alternative: On premise storage as a service.

A company called SerenitaaS said this week that beginning in April it will sell what it calls a virtual private storage array for organizations with changing needs, charging only for storage used.

CEO Glenn Cameron, who also has a storage consulting firm, said the array will be installed in customer data centres, linked to servers that aren’t on the enterprise SAN. An estimated 80 per cent of servers aren’t on a SAN, he said.

“You can use the storage for an hour, for a day, for a month, and when you’re finished with it, give it back and we stop we stop billing. There’s no lock-in for three years like traditional storage.”

Customers would have a choice of a SATA array with terabytes of storage or a single SAS drive connected directly to a server. Fees could work out to be 18 cents an hour for 3 TB of storage, he said.

The solution is based around storage management software from Zadara Storage Inc. of Irvine, Calif. It includes NFS, CIFS, clustering, large volume size support, instant snapshots with writeable clones, remote replication, data encryption and flash caching.

Zadara’s platform is used in the U.S. in conjunction with Amazon Web Services to offer cloud storage.

However, Cameron said, Amazon doesn’t have a Canadian data centre. He thought of setting up a cloud storage offering himself, but “the Canadian market is very hesitant to embrace the idea of cloud, particularly as it refers to their data. The want their data on premise ideally.” Hence the plan to put arrays in corporate data centers.

A system with 50 TB of storage would take up one-third of a rack, he estimates.

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