Q&A with Chris Gladwin of Cleversafe

By Chris Gladwin (Profile)
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Monday, June 6th 2011
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VSM: What inspired you to start Cleversafe?

CG: I became interested in storage when I digitized my personal photos, files and music collection after selling MusicNow, an online music service, to Circuit City Stores, Inc., in 2004. I didn’t think conventional storage methods would keep my data safe and intact for as long as I’d like so I started looking for a better way to store data. I pulled from my knowledge in cryptography and realized data could be converted into an equation, then broken into pieces and stored in different places, which is safer and more cost-effective since it doesn't require several full copies of the data.

VSM: What is information dispersal? What about this technology makes it more secure and efficient over other, more traditional methods?

CG: Cleversafe’s Information Dispersal Algorithms (IDAs) separate data into multiple, unrecognizable slices of information, which are then dispersed to separate storage devices. These devices can be in the same data center located anywhere. Because the data has a higher fault tolerance than traditional RAID, it is more resilient against system crashes and network failures. Only a subset of slices is needed to reconstitute the original data, so in the event of multiple simultaneous failures across a string of hosting devices, servers or networks, data can still be accessed in real time.

Cloud storage using IDAs is a cost-effective, secure way to store large amounts of data. With the increasing need for large scale data storage, information dispersal is cost-effective and allows access to data in real time despite the potential for simultaneous system failures. As a result, traditional methods, like replication, are no longer cost-effective for large scale data storage.

VSM: Why is it important to leverage object storage? What are the benefits of doing this?

CG: Object storage is emerging as a standard for cloud storage, particularly in cases involving storage and distribution of large amounts of unstructured content, such as images and video and audio files. But in many scenarios, the file system isn't being used to manage digital content because users are relying on applications to interact with the content’s metadata. By simply having an identifier to locate and return objects, it frees data from underlying hardware and enables storage resources to be virtualized. Object storage improves the efficiency of managing assets and provides unlimited scalability as there are no file system constraints.

VSM: Does Cleversafe have any patents related to the technology?

CG: We have built our company’s system from the ground up, which includes the technology. To-date, we have been issued five patents related to storing, rebuilding and finding data in a dispersed storage network- and we have an additional 65 pending patents, making us one of the most patenting companies in the U.S. per employee. As a company, we are addressing the major needs of the market, and each patent provides us with greater strength to deliver cost-effective, large-scale storage for petabytes of digital content.