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RainStor launches cloud database for big data archives

The infrastructure software company, formerly of the U.K., launches its cloud database offering in the United States to combat the growing problem of old data.

San Francisco-based RainStor, the company formerly known as Clearpace Software, has released its novel database and data storage technology RainStor 3.5. in the United States. The company is aiming to combine massive repositories of seldom-used company data and cheap distributed cloud computing.

Many enterprises have masses of business data that they rarely access but must keep for regulatory, legal or contractual reasons. The same enterprises are also faced with legacy applications that cannot function in modern, Web-based computing. Analysts say it's a fast-growing issue but note significant hurdles, such as significant storage investments and fears about storing data in the cloud, that may keep a service like RainStor from appealing to enterprises.

"Typically, archival datasets are very large," said Andi Mann, vice president of research, systems and storage management for Enterprise Management Associates, "so the transfer times alone could be prohibitive due to network constraints, plus the time to run it through [deduplication]."

Mann said that for large enterprises, switching to new technology such as RainStor means competing with internal IT. Most large enterprises, he said, already had significant investments in sophisticated storage management, and compliance was a big worry.

"Amazon Web Services has publicly stated that they cannot ensure certain types of compliance, such as PCI-DSS, for stored data," he said.

We can achieve 40 times to 60 times reduction in total storage.

John Bantleman,
CEO, RainStor

Mann, however, thinks there is a strong potential market for RainStor outside the large enterprise, as smaller organizations that are faced with mounting data costs need a fast, managed, cheap way to solve their problems. The idea met several key criteria for potential adoption, he said, most important of which was being a fully formed service and application, along with the ability for customers to mix and match their infrastructure environments.

"[There's a] leading preference for cloud adoption of a hybrid cloud that includes both on-premise and off-premise deployment," he said.

Still, RainStor will have to prove that both its utility and its value are outstanding, Mann said. Even if RainStor can reduce terabytes to gigabytes, reduce bandwidth and reoccurring storage fees and eliminate potential lock-in to RainStor's technology, it will still be a tough sell to conservative storage types.

RainStor, originally developed for the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense (MOD) as a research pilot, claims to load in data from big relational databases like Oracle and scrub that data clean of its relational structure, removing multiple entries for single points of data. In normal relational database management systems (RDBMS), one data point may be listed many times to allow users to view the data in different ways.

A customer's name and home address, for example, might be listed a dozen times in a database designed for retail sales. It could be listed under recent items purchased, in total sales, as a potential sales lead and so on. RainStor officials claim they can strip away all the duplicate entries for the customer and only store the unique data.

"We can achieve 40 times to 60 times reduction in total storage ," claimed RainStor CEO John Bantleman.

Bantleman said that RainStor is for "problem" data that companies don't want to sink expenses into but can't get rid of for legal or regulatory reasons. Once RainStor has stripped the data down to its bare essentials, Bantleman said, the software allows users to shape and run queries on the data in close to real time, mimicking the functionality of the legacy RDBMS it is replacing.

The distributed remote nature of cloud storage was what made the technology work, Bantleman added, and he called RainStor a cousin in spirit to other new vogues in cloud database technologies such as Hadoop or Vertical's "massively parallel processing" (MPP) database technologies. These systems, along with RainStor, work because the data doesn't change very much, said Bantleman, so queries can be run and results can be returned very quickly.

A version of the RainStor technology is still in use at the MOD, said Bantleman. He added that bringing the technology over to the U.S. was an important step, as European Union data privacy laws make it very hard for European businesses to store data outside the EU, The U.S., on the other hand, has a rich field of potential customers as well as the best developed cloud storage market.

Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at Contact him at

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