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4/27/2009
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Virtual Appliances for Amazon's Storage Service

Vembu Technologies lets managed service providers resell storage services on top of Amazon's cloud.

Vembu Technologies lets managed service providers resell storage services on top of Amazon's cloud.Vembu Technologies has launched StoreGrid Cloud AMI, a virtual appliance that lets providers offer online backup to their customers using Amazon's EC2 and S3 cloud platforms.

The StoreGrid Cloud AMI (Amazon Machine Instance) aims at VARs and MSPs that serve customers of 10 to 500 employees. MSPs and VARs can resell StoreGrid Cloud AMI as either a primary online backup service or to replicate backups in a separate location.

The virtual appliance runs as a backup server on the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform. MSPs and VARs install Vembu's software agents on their customers' machines, including Windows and Mac PCs, Windows and Linux file servers, Exchange and SQL Server and MySQL. These agents connect to the virtual appliance, which then copies files onto the Simple Storage Service (S3) platform. At present, the company only stores data files. It can't back up full images of the OS or applications.

Why would an MSP or VAR go through Vembu instead of working directly with Amazon? The StoreGrid software lets providers build a mini-NOC, where they can manage multiple customers from a Web-based interface. The software lets providers organize client computers to the correct account, tracks allocated storage space and licensing, alerts on backup operations, and lets providers generate invoices.

The company also offers StoreGrid software for VARs and MSPs that resell their own premises storage. For these customers, Vembu positions the virtual appliance as a belt-and-suspenders replication service, allowing providers to move copies of backed up files off premises.

Vembu is headquartered in Chennai India, but says 70 percent of its business is in North America. The company is in the process of opening a U.S. office. The company, which is five years old, says it has more than 1,200 service provider customers.

On the competitive front, companies such as CTERA are also targeting the service provider/reseller market. However, CTERA takes a different approach. It gives MSPs a small storage device (see a video here) that resides on the customer premises, but connects to an online backup service.

Vembu also competes against online backup companies that sell directly to small and medium-size businesses, such as Mozy and Egnyte, a Startup 50 winner.

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