Kazeon Systems Inc., a startup with friends in high places, may have found a much-needed and lucrative niche that many storage vendors have long ignored.
The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., which has just introduced its first product, focuses on combining data services, content services and storage services, with the goal of providing more visibility and control over unstructured data.
Kazeons Information Server IS1200, an integrated hardware/software solution with most of the intelligence residing in the software, allows users to classify and search distributed file systems, and does so out of band so it is not intrusive to the data path.
“Historically, first-generation data classification tools have focused on looking at file attributes like name, size and age, but thats a little like trying to guess what you got for your birthday by looking at the color of the wrapping paper or the size of the box,” said Troy Toman, vice president of marketing for Kazeon.
“Were trying to allow people to peer inside of those containers and begin to classify and understand the business value of that information so they can make more intelligent decisions about how it can be leveraged.”
By fully understanding everything that makes up unstructured data—the content of data that resides within files, attribute information about files, other information users or applications may have, and supplemental metadata—organizations can best manage that data and mitigate the risks of compliance and litigation exposures, Toman said.
To address these issues, the IS1200 offers content-aware data classification, recognizing more than 350 common file types and offering customization to recognize custom file and metadata formats.
The appliance also offers policy-based management, including file tagging and setting retention or encryption policies. In addition, the products search technology is optimized for crawling and indexing large, distributed file environments.
Toman envisions most customers as organizations with 10 to 20TB of unstructured data that exists in NAS (network-attached storage) devices, file servers and other storage structures.
The company is targeting industries that require a lot of documentation and communications in unstructured data formats, such as financial services, energy and high-tech manufacturing.
The IS1200 supports the legal discovery process by identifying files that might be related to a particular activity—even if looking across billions of files.
That capability makes it more unlikely that an organization will miss a piece of information that a plaintiff or outside organization may have come across, Toman said.
The appliance also helps with continuous compliance auditing by helping organizations scan what has previously been unmanaged data, looking for indications of inappropriate material in improper places.
The IS1200 also provides a full text index of all backed-up files along with a Web-based interface where users can type in keywords for information of the type they want to recover.
Kazeon is one of the few companies fully focused on content-aware data management—something that may bode well for the startup, said Laura Dubois, research director for storage software at IDC of Framingham, Mass.
“There are a lot of storage vendors focused on building tiers of storage, and there are traditional data management application vendors focused around the data, but there are only a few other small companies trying to do what Kazeon is doing,” she said.
Larger, more established vendors could react in one of two ways to Kazeons business model—either develop their own content-aware solutions or court Kazeon as a partner.
Both storage behemoths like EMC Corp. and database vendors like Oracle Corp. are likely to be friends or foes, she said.
“It will either end up being a synergistic relationship or a combative relationship,” she said.
Kazeon has taken a positive step toward market acceptance, however, by immediately partnering with Network Appliance Inc.
NetApp plans to integrate the intelligent data classification and search capabilities of Kazeons Information Server with NetApps line of storage systems. NetApp also will OEM Kazeons Information Server.
By partnering with NetApp, Toman said, the company hopes to convince large corporations, which tend to remain with tried and true vendors, to take a chance on Kazeon.
“As an emerging small company, you have a more limited audience of people willing to buy your product,” he said. “By being able to buy our product from NetApp, weve opened up a much larger opportunity base.”
Dubois said Kazeon is on the right track, and that both companies will benefit.
“It allows NetApp to help its users mitigate risk with the data stored in the NetApp filers, so it increases the value for NetApp customers while giving Kazeon instant credibility and sales distribution,” she said.
Although its very early in this developing market niche, Dubois said she expects the segment to grow quickly.
Eventually, she predicts, the technology that Kazeon is introducing will become integrated into more comprehensive products, “but where it gets integrated—at what part of the stack—remains to be seen,” she said.