Startup AutoVirt is going to introduce a Windows file share virtualisation product to drive up disk utilisation and ease file storage consolidation. It's like an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) for files.
AutoVirt was founded in 2007 on the premise that unstructured file growth combined with low Windows server and Windows network-attached storage (NAS) utilisation provided an opportunity for mid-market customers to save cash by employing an out-of-band file virtualisation product. This would enable files to be migrated into more efficient and consolidated storage without affecting user and application file paths.
By analogy, IBM's SVC provides similar and also out-of-band facilities for block-level storage in a SAN.
AutoVirt software will run on a standard Windows server and automatically discover Windows file servers and CIFS NAS products and their volumes and shares on the network. It will virtualise at the share level, not the file level, and provide a global namespace and a lookup facility to map file access requests to the physical location of the files.
As the physical location changes, so does the map. This leaves existing short cuts unchanged as well as the disaster protection, snapshot, backup and restore, and security infrastructure. All these arrangements will be preserved during a file migration.
Its insertion into a customer's infrastructure will be done automatically through modification of the DNS configuration. Because it's out of the data path, there will be no additional latency involved in file access, according to AutoVirt.
AutoVirt's intended pricing strategy has an average systems price (ASP) of $25,000 for customers with revenues between $100m to $1b and at least 500 NAS users. Below that, it says, are products such as SecureCopy and MigratePro with ASPs in the $5,000 area, and above are products from EMC, Brocade and F5/Acopia with $1m ASPs.
AutoVirt chief technology officer and founder Klavs Landberg says Acopia is "a wonderful product for Windows and Unix... (but) quite expensive and intrusive... Brocade's out-of-band solution... requires substantial modification of file share access and security." The AutoVirt product, meanwhile, provides "transparent and non-disruptive online migration of data".
Landberg says IBM bought Softek to focus on the block level aspect of the data migration problem. Tools included with database products "have essentially put that part to bed", leaving the mid-market NAS space un-served. AutoVirt intends to change that and is looking for customers to join its early adoption program.
There is no first release data for its product yet, although a release date before mid-2009 would seem reasonable.
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