Caringo Object Based Storage, interview with CEO Mark Goros

caringoCaringo, interview with CEO Mark Goros
Date: 17 February 2014
Caringo CrunchBase profile

Today I had an interview with the CEO of Caringo, Mark Goros. Caringo is an object based storage solution that’s software only.

Following my talk with Mark, I would like to introduce the company in this article.

Caringo Storage
Caringo started back in 2005 with 3 partners, Mark Goros, Jonathan Ring and Paul Carpentier decided to pull their combined experience together and build a new storage system.

Mark GorosThe premise on which they started in 2005, was that consumer grade storage was getting cheaper while enterprise storage was enormously expensive. At the same time, they recognised that a lot about our lives would be digitized. This would result in an enormous growth in storagethat could then only be stored on expensive enterprise storage.

Earlier, Paul Carpentier developed Content Adressed Storage in his prior company FilePool, that was later bought by EMC and turned into what is now EMC Centera. EMC was not interested in his later patents around CAS as they sold enough Centera machines, and together with Mark Goros they discussed the opportunity to start an entirely new company around these patents.

Mark and Paul decided that if they were to be successful, they needed Johnathan Ring in the company. John had earlier started up Siebel as the VP of Engineering, that grew to the $6 Billion giant bought by Oracle.

Bootstrapped start
I was really impressed by their story, besides the talent of the three founders, their method was quite onorthodox. The three of them decided to start Caringo the old-fashioned way, self-funded without any VC money. They wanted to be able to focus entirely on the product, to get it really right without the time pressure of VCs behind them.
In 2008 they saw the benefit of this approach, when the economic crisis meant that many of their competitors fell. Other competitors were forced by VCs to fire workforce or were sold off entirely.

Being autonomous and having built a great team with much loyalty, Mark asked every employee to sacrifice that part of their salary they could miss. Each and every employee cooperated, they weathered the crisis and they grew stronger through the experience.

The team is now 42 people strong and only 2 people have ever left the company since 2005. Later 2 VCs joined the company with relatively modest investments; Vodafone Ventures and Austin Ventures.
Both VCs had special strategic interests and approached Caringo, not the other way around.

Caringo is a software-only solution that runs on any X-86 hardware. The technology has been designed from the ground up to be object based storage. According to Mark Goros, most competitors of Caringo that offer object based storage have ‘wrapped’ their object based protocol around a filesystem, making it far less efficient and resilient.

Object based storage means that the storage data + metadata are storage in 1 object. The management system and the distributed object index run from RAM, making it very fast and saving storage space. The management system and distributed object index initiates with booting and is redundant across all nodes in the cluster.

Scalability is great because the technology accepts that you can run completely different hardware. That means a cluster can be made up of different nodes, different disks, of different sizes.

One of the design criteria for Caringo was that hardware is expected to fail, therefore there are no single points of failure in the management system, controllers or databases.

For performance and redundancy, a ‘bidding’ system is used to determine how many objects / versions of objects are used – so a file that is accessed often or a new file will have more copies than another, to enhance quick read times.

Mark Goros: ‘Bidding allows us to do some awesome things. For instance if you retire a node the bidding will control the retirement in the background so that performance is not affected. If you’re adding a node to the system, the system will automatically balance itself in the background. It does this through these bidding algorithms that you can adjust. Additionally, there is something called a health processor that runs in the background and pro-actively checks replica’s, objects, segments and various other parts of the storage system.’

From the team behind Caringo and the principles this company is founded on, I am very excited to learn more about them and hear how their product works in the field