Acquisitions help storage vendors sell management tools

Acquisitions help storage vendors sell management tools

Quantum introduced Monday an upgraded version of its StorNext storage management software, similar to moves by other storage vendors

Quantum Monday updated its StorNext storage management software, joining the trend among vendors that are expanding storage systems for enterprises.

Quantum expects StorNext 3.0 to ship some time this quarter. It acquired StorNext when it bought Advanced Digital Information for US$770 million in 2006.

StorNext enables companies to access data from storage on a LAN regardless of the operating system or software application on which the data was created. It also offers data deduplication at the primary disk storage level for faster retrieval of the data when needed. Deduplication, which recognizes multiple copies of the same file and saves only one, is typically used in long-term storage for archival purposes. Archiving can be done on either disk or tape in StorNext 3.0.

"We refer to StorNext as the glue that binds things together, so whatever your application is on top, we'll support that, and whatever storage is on the back end, we'll support that," said Nathan Moffitt, software product marketing manager for Quantum.

Although StorNext has been available for about 10 years, it has largely been used only in video production and government scientific research, because it allows people to collaborate on projects and have easy access to the same files. But Moffitt says StorNext can serve a larger mainstream market as storage demands grow for many businesses.

Other storage vendors acquiring makers of similar file management tools include Cisco Systems' pending acquisition of NeoPath Networks, which was announced March 13; Hewlett-Packard's February acquisition of PolyServe; and Network Appliance's 2004 acquisition of Spinnaker Networks Inc. Also, EMC has formed a partnership with iBrix. Although the acquired companies offer different technology, they all come under the heading of storage file management.

The upgraded StorNext is unique because of the way it allows users to collaborate on the same file over a LAN, said Brian Garrett, technical director at Enterprise Strategy Group, an analyst firm.

He called it an "evolutionary enhancement" that allows workers to connect to their distributed file systems in a cheaper way instead of using an expensive Fibre Channel connection on a SAN (storage area network), said Garrett.

"It's faster than network-attached storage, the traditional way people access a file system. So, you get the best of both worlds. You get something that is faster than network-attached storage but not as expensive as storage area networks," he said.

The Quantum move also diversifies the company's product base in the same way as storage leader EMC, said Dianne McAdam, a storage industry analyst with The Clipper Group.

"They are making the same sort of progress that other companies are doing in that they want to become less dependent on hardware and more dependant on software," McAdam said. "EMC is the classic example of a company that says it is going to be a software company."

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