BlueArc and Drobo founder Geoff Barrall has a new perch: Gridstore, one of the companies I’ve been following for almost 3 years. Geoff is the new executive chairman. Formal announcement is expected this week.

Gridstore’s concept is a low-cost scale-out NAS appliance designed for office environments. Each box is a small, low-power node with a couple of TB. Stack ’em for as much redundancy, capacity and performance you want.

Think of it as the consumerization of hyper-scale technology. Nutanix writ small.

Gridstore details
Gridstore is offering a low-cost, scale-out network file server for $500 a node. That is too cheap for the enterprise storage companies to sell directly.

Founded 5 years ago, Gridstore got a beta out in 2010, and have been shipping for well over a year. They are a Microsoft CIFS protocol file server, using Microsoft’s storage server software. Running on small, 25 watt Atom-based boxes, a 6 node configuration is the size of a bread box.

Like other scale-out NAS systems, the Gridstore NAS has no single point of failure and can survive multiple node failures without going down or losing data.

They call their redundancy scheme RAIDg. When you set up a volume you dial in how many faults you want to survive and the software handles the rest.

Today the number of faults they can handle is limited to half the number of nodes minus one. If you have a 6 node configuration it can handle the loss of 2 nodes. They expect to relax that requirement in the future.

The StorageMojo take
Haven’t spoken to Geoff about this, but Gridstore seems like a natural for him. If there’s a theme to his many endeavors, its making advanced NAS technology more accessible.

Gridstore fits the bill nicely. If there’s one complaint about Drobo, its the lack of box-level redundancy. Gridstore answers this objection, at a higher price point.

Drobo – over 200,000 units sold – has blazed a trail for bringing advanced storage technology to the masses at affordable prices. They may be the first, but as Gridstore and others demonstrate, they won’t be the last.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Hoping to make it to CES later this week. Readers: anyone I should make a point to see?