Picking Up the Virtual Slack

Datacore, FalconStor hone storage wares.

After years of listening to large developers hype storage virtualization, users are increasingly turning to smaller companies for tangible results.

Companies, such as DataCore Software Corp. and FalconStor Software Inc., are moving ahead with products that are hardware-agnostic and scalable—attributes larger developers such as IBM, EMC Corp. and Veritas Software Corp. have balked at for several years, fearing they would commoditize their legacy products.

DataCore will launch its SANsymphony 5.2 next month with Microsoft Corp. Windows 2003 support, according to CEO and President George Teixeira. The next major release, 6.0, will come early next year with virtualization for end users, not just administrators, and with more general storage and switch management features beyond virtualization, said Teixeira, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Skip Marsh, IT manager of Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc., which owns more than 50 newspapers nationwide, runs Fujitsu Software Technology Corp.s edition of DataCores product on top of an IBM midrange storage area network and legacy Dell Computer Corp. versions of EMC gear.

"Im not wasting disk like I was in my previous environment," Marsh said.

Virtualization—or the administering of disparate storage arrays as a single, logical pool—so improved the efficiency of Marshs data center that in the next few years he "will be buying less [storage] because of this."

Another company transcending startup mode is FalconStor, which has gained about 300 customers since launching IPStor two years ago. The latest IPStor, 4.0, is set to be available by next month, with new encryption and compression and with speedier data replication, said Wai Lam, vice president of engineering.

Beyond that release, IPStor 5.0 will ship later this year, with a focus on usability and the evolving Common Information Model for interoperability; future versions will focus on high availability and load balancing, Lam said, in Melville, N.Y.

As smaller companies grow, larger vendors are still lagging behind promises made years ago. A network-based design of HPs VersaStor will enter beta tests later this year and will ship in the first half of next year, said officials, in Palo Alto, Calif., last week. The original host-based VersaStor concept from Compaq Computer Corp. was essentially canceled, officials said earlier this year.

Veritas, in Mountain View, Calif., isnt launching its virtualization product, SAN Volume Manager, until later this year, company officials said. EMC officials, in Hopkinton, Mass., said they will have a version late next year as part of the next PowerPath generation. And IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., wont make its recently announced, hardware-agnostic SAN Volume Controller available until later this year, IBM officials said.