New Storage Products Aim for Midmarket

AppIQ unveils suite for Exchange, Oracle Software; Astrum debuts Astrum 1.5.

With larger storage companies aiming their management software at the high end, smaller vendors and startups are rolling out products targeted at the midmarket.

Several of those products will be unveiled this week at the Storage Networking World show in Orlando, Fla., with AppIQ Inc., Astrum Software Corp. and Candera Inc. among those announcing offerings.

AppIQ is initially subcontracting its CIM (Common Information Model) expertise to other vendors through its CIM-IQ partner program. However, in December, the Burlington, Mass., company will target users with its AppIQ Solutions Suite, which is application-centric storage resource management software for Oracle Corp. software and Microsoft Corp.s Exchange, said AppIQ Vice President Doug Cahill.

For its part, Astrum will announce Astrum 1.5, with a browser-based interface and features for linking policies to storage devices and software, said Robert Infantino, founder and chief strategy officer of the company, in Boston.

Candera will introduce a network-based storage policy appliance, due early next year, said President and CEO Sundi Sundaresh. The product is not yet named, but it will perform array- and application-centric management, said Sundaresh, in Milpitas, Calif. It uses an "in-band," or direct, connection to the storage fabric, he said.

Theyll be joined by Motive Communications Inc., an Austin, Texas, maker of remote support products to IT vendors. The company will show new storage features in its Enterprise Service Solution, officials said. Meanwhile, Paris-based Neartek Inc. will target its VSEngine, a tape virtualization product, to the U.S. market, officials said.

"Most of these companies are unable to distribute these products themselves. Some of the consolidation will be among them if they all fight it out in the marketplace through the channel," said Mike Kahn, an analyst with The Clipper Group Inc., in Wellesley, Mass. "I think everyones aware of how fragile the opportunity is."

Some enterprises have found success with startups. Shawn Mashino, infrastructure project leader at General Electric Co. division GE Plastics, runs Astrums software on almost 30 file servers, spanning 2 terabytes, and will soon install it on another 2 terabytes of an EMC Corp. Symmetrix SAN (storage area network) and on an EMC Celerra network-attached storage system. Before taking a chance on the startup, "we put it through some really heavy testing on development servers and didnt have any issues with it," said Mashino, in Pittsfield, Mass.

"We have all the typical data that anybody would have to run a business, [but] weve stepped off the edge in several places," said Roger Goss, director of IT for the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, N.C.

Besides business data, the National Football League franchise stores game video. Its all on a 3-terabyte SAN from Storage Technology Corp., of Louisville, Colo., and on 3 terabytes of direct-attached storage. Goss used virtual LAN switches from then-startup Xylan Corp. a year before incumbent Cisco Systems Inc. legitimized that niche with its own products. The risk factor was alleviated when Alcatel S.A. acquired Xylan in 1999, Goss said.

Still, "the only thing we would gamble with on the storage side of things is if its redundant. We would be very cautious," Goss said.