Written By:
Content Copyright © 2009 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The IM Blog

RainStor was previously Clearpace Software. The company was founded by ex-MOD staff who had been working on a way to effectively store data derived from battlefield simulations. As you may imagine this means very large volumes of data, which need to be ingested rapidly, stored for a long time and easily retrieved.

Putting this into a commercial context, the company built a file store (technically, a data repository that stores data in files) for the long-term retention of structured data, such as log data, SMS text messages, call detail records (CDRs), relational data, and so on. It will run either within the enterprise or in the cloud, as required.

RainStor does not use a database but a file system. This means that it is very easy to install and implement and it requires virtually no administration. Technically speaking, RainStor uses a form of tokenisation with a linked list to enable data value and pattern de-duplication. This significantly reduces the amount of data that needs to be stored and then there is compression on top of that, meaning that total space savings are typically around 40 times, though that increases to approaching 100 when considering things like CDRs. This is because there is a lot of duplication in CDRs that can be removed (if I called you five times last week the only thing that changed is the time).

There are a couple of other things that are important to note. The first is that if you are using RainStor for relational data (typically, for application retirement or archival—RainStor is used within Informatica’s Data Archive [previously Applimation] product) then RainStor ingests the schema as well as the data. It then supports schema evolution, so that you can make queries at a point in time (that is, you can look at the data exactly as it would have appeared at a particular point in time) rather in the same way that Kalido allows you to do that in a data warehousing environment. And the second thing is that it includes a query engine that supports (translates) incoming SQL so that you can run conventional business intelligence environments against RainStor.

RainStor is now available in the United States as well as the UK. However, it is primarily marketed via channel partners such as Informatica. Another notable partner is Group2000, which offers a data retention solution for CDRs and IPDRs based on RainStor.

I have to say that I am impressed with RainStor. It isn’t, of course, a solution on its own, but it is much less expensive, and greener, than traditional solutions (at one customer it required 1/20th of the hardware, 1/40th of the storage and was 1/20th of the price of the total cost of the end solution its traditional relational competitor). It lacks the out-of-the box analytics provided by some other vendors but no doubt its partners provide such capabilities thanks to RainStor’s query engine. And beyond that it has broader capability, with most of its competition limited to log management or data retention or maybe both but not including relational archival. I expect to hear a lot more about RainStor.