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Startup HubStor wants to make it easier to use public cloud storage for file data, particularly compliance-sensitive information.
HubStor recently came out of stealth with enterprise archiving tools built around low-cost Microsoft Azure file storage. The HubStor software suite layers atop Azure and lets customers securely use the public cloud for self-service analytics, data governance and indexed searching of inactive file shares.
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HubStor Connector Service is a Windows virtual machine for policy-based archiving of data sitting in NAS or SAN filers. It installs behind a company's firewall and as a data-aware cloud archive tenant in Azure. File storage policies and scheduling can be automatically applied to individual drives or network file shares via CIFS, NFS or SMB protocols.
The service transmits local file data to the Microsoft public cloud, either in HubStor's Azure cloud or the customer's existing Azure account. A second self-service interface, the HubStor Export Utility, retrieves Azure file storage for local use cases, such as e-discovery, legal holds or disaster recovery.
Data governance, legal hold features address 'barrier to entry'
CEO Geoff Bourgeois said HubStor, which launched in June with a handful of customers, makes it easier to place and retrieve file storage in the public cloud. The inaugural HubStor release only supports Microsoft Azure. The HubStor Connector Service synchronizes with Microsoft Active Directory (AD) and Azure AD in the cloud for trusted authentication.
"When talking with IT leaders, we learned their real pain point is getting low-touch data into and out of the cloud," Bourgeois said. "A lot of the [public] cloud options are unsuitable to their needs. They told us they need a cloud archiving tool like those built for email but without the complexities and vendor lock-in."
Geoff BourgeoisCEO, HubStor
Although the immediate focus is on companies in highly regulated industries, Bourgeois said HubStor plans to branch out to other organizations leery of public cloud storage.
"We included the data governance features to address a barrier to entry for a lot companies, but we don’t want to zero in only on the [compliance] market," he said.
HubStor founders Bourgeois and CTO Greg Campbell previously developed unstructured file analysis software at Acaveo.
HubStor is banking its pay-as-you-go, month-to-month software subscription will appeal to customers seeking to move dormant data from file shares or legacy storage to the Microsoft cloud. HubStor does not impose startup costs, and customers can cancel its software as a service at any time without a financial penalty.
A HubStor subscription starts at $1,400 per month for parking 4 TB of data in either Microsoft Azure file storage or Azure Cool Blob Storage for infrequent access. The monthly rate does not include HubStor fees for spinning up volume search clusters in Azure. The monthly cost also could increase if a customer needs higher data redundancy or full context indexing.
Multiple NAS filers can be attached to a single HubStor Connector Service instance. HubStor requires each data center location to have a connector to avoid the cost of crawling local storage across a network.
"It's not a roach motel where you can get in, but can't get out," Whalen said. "HubStor lets you pay only for what you use and pull it out without a penalty if you don't want to use it anymore. That's pretty unusual because vendors normally are looking to lock people in. They're trying to help you minimize the volume of data stuffed into your high-cost primary storage by using policies to manage it out to Azure."
HubStor adds roles-based access for Azure file storage
HubStor integrates its own role-based access control framework for storage admins to set permissions for groups and individual users. Files being moved to Azure are deduplicated inline and encrypted by HubStor while in transit.
"We're not just dumping data in the cloud and creating a dark data repository. When data goes into the cloud, we surround Azure file storage with capabilities for analytics and governance," Bourgeois said.
Depending on Azure adoption, HubStor could roll out support for Amazon Web Services and other public cloud platforms, Bourgeois said, but "right now, we've got all we can handle just doing Azure."
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