Electronic Design
Q&A With Ctera Networks' CEO Liran Eshel On Cloud Storage

Q&A With Ctera Networks' CEO Liran Eshel On Cloud Storage



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Storage is a key component of any computer system, and storage requirements have been growing enormously in terms of flexibility and capacity with the advent of the Internet. CTERA Networks is one of the leading companies in the cloud storage market where data is stored and shared via the Internet.

Liran Eshel is CEO and founder of CTERA Networks, and brings with him more than 15 years of experience in software, security and networking technologies. He holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science and a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Bar-Ilan University.

Electronic Design: Tell us a little bit about CTERA.

Liran: We launched CTERA Networks in 2008 with the goal of transforming storage and data protection with "Cloud Attached Storage," a hybrid solution that combines cloud storage and local storage.

As experienced software pioneers, we saw the need for a cost-effective, reliable alternative to current, disparate data storage, backup and file sharing solutions for small businesses and home offices, where IT staff and backup procedures are often limited or non-existent. By integrating cloud storage with local appliances, Cloud Attached Storage utilizes the scalability and reliability of the cloud, but with the speed and convenience of a local network device.

Electronic Design:  How does cloud storage work?

Liran: A more flexible and reliable alternative to traditional methods of storing data on your hard drive or external device, cloud storage uses the power of the Internet to save files to a remote online database. Cloud storage clients can access and update files on an off-site data server via a Web interface and Internet connection.

CTERA's hybrid concept of Cloud Attached Storage introduces local network storage to the cloud, allowing users to backup locally and online. It works by first copying files to the external hard drive, then sending it-via CTERA's cloud-based appliance to a secure online storage site. Users save time, money and resources because the data gets transferred more efficiently, there's no need for additional software, and backups run directly from the appliance, even when the computer is disconnected from the Internet or turned off.

Electronic Design:  What products and services does CTERA provide?

Liran: We currently offer cost-effective, low-maintenance cloud-based appliances like the CloudPlug and the larger C200. Both allow users to easily access files, synchronize data and schedule backups to CTERA's online backup service from anywhere via a simple Web interface.

For service providers, we offer the CTERA Portal, allowing MSPs and ISPs to venture into the world of cloud services with their own managed storage offerings, managing anywhere from tens to tens of thousands of customer sites.

Electronic Design: What is the CloudPlug?

Liran: Dubbed the "world's smallest fileserver," CTERA's CloudPlug  is a tiny plug with a powerful processor inside, an Ethernet jack, and USB and eSATA ports, which you can use to turn any USB/eSATA drive into a NAS and backup your data to the cloud.

Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the CloudPlug is extremely easy to install and simple to manage. Via a simple Web interface, you define which folders to share with whom and set it up to run automatic backup.

Electronic Design:  Does the CloudPlug work with any USB storage device?

Liran: Yes, the CloudPlug works with any external USB or eSATA hard drive, including multiple ones when a USB hub is used. All popular file systems are supported (NTFS, FAT32, EXT3, etc.).

Electronic Design:  Can you give us more details on the CTERA 200?

Liran: The CTERA C200 is the answer for more demanding small businesses and branch offices that need to share files, synchronize folders across the network and maintain a secure, transparent and disaster-proof backup of critical data. The small two-bay RAID appliance packs everything that standalone NAS, file servers and backup tape drives can do, at a much lower cost.

Electronic Design:  How does the online backup service work?

Liran: CTERA's online backup service automatically backs up data from the Cloud Attached Storage appliance, storing information in either CTERA's secure cloud infrastructure or the MSP's own infrastructure using CTERA's software--far away from the local copy to protect it from local accidents and disasters. There's no desktop software to slow down the PC, so users can continue to work as normal while the appliance backs up files.

Electronic Design: What are the advantages of online backup?

Liran: Online backup provides a variety of benefits like protection from future data loss, flexibility, accessibility and reliability. Unlike traditional backup methods, online backup requires only a simple, one-time configuration, and then runs automatically according to your desired schedule. You can instantly access backed-up files from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. If your original data becomes corrupted, gets accidentally deleted, or if your hard drive fails, you can restore lost data from the backup. Online backup also ensures your data is stored in multiple separate locations, protecting it from the consequences of local disasters like fires or floods.

Electronic Design:  Does it work only with CTERA devices like CloudPlug?

Liran: Yes. The CTERA online backup software is engineered and optimized to work with the CTERA appliances, and vice versa. This means that the appliances can backup either to the online backup service run by CTERA, or a service run by one of CTERA's partners who use the CTERA Portal, hosted on their own cloud infrastructure.

Electronic Design: What type of security is provided with the online backup service?

Liran: Understandably, this is the main question most people who consider online backup ask. We utilize the highest security standards, similar to those used by major banks, to safeguard the integrity and privacy of data, including 256-bit AES encryption with personal passphrase protection, SSL secure connection, and SHA-1 fingerprinting.  

Electronic Design:  Does the online backup service include a hierarchical management system so our IT group could manage all the devices used by employees?

Liran: Yes, it does. Within an enterprise environment, for instance, the CTERA Portal can be used to manage remote offices', branches' and teleworkers' online backup. Users can access their own backup data, but IT takes care of provisioning, allocating backup space, creating backup schedules and can also remote-control the appliances.

Electronic Design: I hear you have an extensive partnering program. How does it work and who are you targeting to provide services?

Liran: CTERA works with several types of partners to address different segments of the market and different customer needs. Our partners include ISPs, large and small MSPs, and traditional IT distributors and resellers, who are looking to become MSPs by offering cloud-based solutions.

Our solutions present an opportunity for our partners to grow their business and establish new areas of revenue, and allow them to build a cloud storage and data protection offering rapidly and effortlessly. We provide all the necessary tools, documentation, and support, as well as infrastructure in case the CTERA-hosted (SaaS) option is used.

TAGS: Interviews
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