Archiving appliances

By eweek  |  Posted 2007-08-23 Print this article Print

Vizard: Why dont you describe the product that you guys have put together to address this issue? It sounds like its a combination of what I used to call a hierarchical storage solution, but sounds like it may be a little more elegant than what used to be that term.

Koclanes: There are elements of what you thought about in the past as an HSM but, obviously, technologies have moved forward. So, basically, what weve done is created a very specific tiered storage solution in an appliance, what we call UDO archive appliance, that has all the proper attributes of a secured archive. We took blue laser technologies - not Blu-ray, not HD, but blue lasers, thats the only commonality there - and developed a medium so that once the data is placed on this UDO technology, it is stable and it is truly unchangeable. So, once youve recorded and verified on there it will hold up in a chain of evidence, a chain of custody, if you have the right audit trail, as well as in any kind of legal proceeding. So then this medium, which sits on this ruggedized cartridge, is in an appliance where you can put many pieces of this media - up to 76 terabytes behind one appliance. And all the management of the media is done by our software. And weve added a mass RAID cache and software to manage the integration of those two so that to the application world, to your e-mail archive application, to your file management application, it just looks like its writing to disk, but in reality youre being placed on this compliant media.

Vizard: Why would people go with Plasmon if youre partnered, or if they have relationships with, say the EMCs or the IBMs of the world? What is it that is going to bring a partner over to your view of the world?

Koclanes: A couple of different things. For one thing, all we do is archival storage. Theres plenty of history in this business that when you take a set of technologies and optimize it for a specific thing, that you beat both in terms of capabilities and costs. So think back to file access when NetApp decided to optimize an appliance to serve up files. You know, this is optimized to meet the needs of long-term archival. And now, at the same time, the very companies you name are often parts of the same solution. IBM actually OEMs the UDO technology under its 3996 model, so they actually use the Plasmon UDO technology within their product. Frequently, what will happen is, well be in an EMC environment and theyll have a primary copy of the archive on an EMC piece of technology. And because they know that their disk storage arrays really are only going to be there for three to five years, and theyve got a 25-year archive, lets say, or a 10-year archive, theyll put a longer-term copy on the Plasmon technology as the second copy. So sometimes theyre complementary technologies to what theyre used to. But the fact is you can go to anyone who has a data center and ask them how long is their longest storage array in that data center, you know, and three to five years is a pretty normal life. So what are you going to have as your compliant copy by those terms of these archives?

Vizard: So what kind of margins do the partners make on that kind of solution? I mean, is it a healthy business, or is it a lot of storage hardware businesses involved in kind of a cut-throat margin kind of gig?

Koclanes: One of the things that we find that our partners really like is the fact that this is a very unique solution. We have tried real hard to keep the integrity of our channel model. Were 100 percent through the channel; its not an over-distributed product. Theres unique value so the margins hold up well, double-digit margins for the resellers. We have gone after a value-add distribution model. So recently we announced support of the product by Abnet. And, as you know, Abnet usually represents very, very large companies, but they saw the potential of this opportunity to meet this space and bring IT resellers that are looking to add value to their customer, help them with a problem that theyre all struggling with. How do I meet compliance, IT governance and also how do I deal with the significant area of storage growth? So you can get benefits that give you operational efficiencies and also comply to some of the dictates of IT governance and compliance. The final piece I would like to mention is that, more and more, were seeing companies have directives toward being more energy efficient. And thats another key benefit of this technology. The 76-terabyte libraries that I talked about, the appliances, they still just plug into normal 110 wall power. This is a very efficient technology. Youre not spinning disks all the time. Once its recorded on the UDO media, it doesnt require any further electricity to be spinning drives all the time. So, over a 10-year archive, you can save between a half a million and a million dollars over a similar solution from someone like EMC in just power savings.


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