CTERA Launches Two Cloud-Attached Storage Devices

Israeli-based CTERA Networks is adding its new CTERA CloudPlug and CTERA C200 products to the growing list of devices that let you easily convert external hard drives into network-attached storage (NAS) devices and make them remotely accessible. Unlike other devices that perform similar functionality, such as the Pogoplug and the Seagate FreeAgent DockStar, CTERA's two new devices add an additional feature that these other products lack: automatic online backup.

It is the addition of online-based storage that inspires CTERA to refer to these two products as "Cloud Attached Storage" devices (CTERA owns the trademark on that phrase, so don't expect to see other companies use the same expression to describe their products, unless they are licensing CTERA's technology). CTERA first announced the CloudPlug back in January at CES. Following months of beta testing, the CloudPlug now makes its official debut.

It is not a coincidence that several different products have popped up recently that are designed to convert external storage into NAS devices. Both CTERA devices, as well as the Pogoplug and FreeAgent DockStar are all based on Marvell's Plug Computing initiative and SheevaPlug Development Kit, which is a full system-on-chip (SoC)-based device. In fact, Pogoplug licensed its technology to Seagate for the FreeAgent DockStar.

 CTERA Portal (left) and CTERA User Web-Interface (right)

The CloudPlug is a small box that includes a High-Speed USB 2.0 port, eSATA port, and a Gigabit Ethernet connection. Setting it up is as simple as attaching the power cable, plugging in an external hard drive, and connecting the device to a router. There is no software to install, as the device is managed "via an online portal." Once the device is configured, it allows you to access the contents of the hard drive over your local network or remotely over the Internet. You can also set up remote access for additional users. Data stored on the CloudPlug can be configured to automatically backup to CTERA's online backup service--backups use "high-grade AES encryption and [are] encoded to maximize bandwidth utilization." The C200 provides the same functionality, but it is a larger device that also has two 3.5-inch 3.0Gbps SATA drive bays, with RAID support.

 CTERA CloudPlug front (left), bottom (middle), and back (right)

CTERA's goal is not just to sell its products directly to consumers, but instead to partner with service providers who will offer the products and services to consumers and small businesses. The first such partner to come online is Rackspace, which will "promote and market the CloudPlug via online and channel programs."

"CTERA is working with managed service providers to offer next-generation data protection services, and both the CloudPlug and C200 are remotely manageable using CTERA’s management portal, which provides for full provisioning, monitoring, billing and remote upgrade capabilities."

The CloudPlug and C200 are both available starting today. The CloudPlug is available directly from CloudPlug and sells for $199, which includes one year of 10GB of online storage. The C200 is available now, buy you'll have to purchase it from one of CTERA's channel partners. The C200's price starts at $499, which includes one of year of 10GB of online storage (with a 30-day retention). You can purchase more online storage space for both the CloudPlug and C200, starting with $9.95 per month (or $110 per year) for another 10GB.