The Age of Cloud Attached Storage Begins

A new Israeli-based company that goes by the name of CTERA Networks is not only officially launching at CES today, but it is ushering in a brand-new product category: Cloud Attached Storage. Cloud Attached Storage--or at least CTERA's approach to it (it's a brand new concept, so it's way too early to tell how others might implement it)--takes a seamless approach to providing both onsite and offsite storage for consumers and small businesses.

The key to CTERA's vision is its CloudPlug device. The CloudPlug is a small box that has an Ethernet jack on one end and a USB port on the other. By simply attaching a USB-based hard drive to one end and attaching the other end to your network, you can turn any virtually USB hard drive into a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. This unto itself is not a completely original idea--in fact, Addonics Technologies recently released its $55 NAS Adapter that already does exactly that. (As a matter of fact, we have an Addonics NAS Adapter in our testing lab right now and will be posting a review of it soon.) But the CTERA CloudPlug takes this a step further: It also automatically backs-up the contents of the NAS device "without the need for any user intervention or PC client software" to online servers using CTERA's online backup service. (Another difference between the Addonics NAS Adapter and the CTERA CloudPlug is that the Addonics device supports only 10/100Mbps Ethernet, while the CloudPlug supports Gigabit Ethernet.)

Backups are "encrypted using high-grade AES encryption and encoded to maximize bandwidth utilization." The data is stored on hosted online servers to be used for off-site backup and disaster recovery. If the folks over at had utilized this or a similar approach they wouldn't find themselves permanently closing up shop because all of their data was completely wiped.

CTERA will not be selling this technology directly to users. It will instead be working with "channel partners," such as Internet service providers and managed service providers, who will then sell the device and service to users. CTERA was rather non-specific as to when these partners will have products available, other than to say that it will be "in 2009."