Storage Startup Tackles Midmarket Needs

Crosswalk Inc. introduces Crosswalk Storage Manager, a storage management software suite that aims to help midsize businesses improve application performance and make storage operations more efficient.

Crosswalk Inc., a new storage company founded by former McData CEO Jack McDonnell, has introduced its first product aimed at satisfying the storage needs of midsized companies.

Crosswalk Storage Manager, a storage management software suite, promises to help organizations with five to 200 servers improve application performance and increase the efficiency of storage operations.

Through the Crosswalk Knowledge Server component, the software integrates physical and logical resources from different vendors into one knowledge base.

This allows a network administrator to gather, visualize and store critical information that can be used to assess, plan, architect, procure and manage midsized storage infrastructures, said Rob Kelley, co-founder and chief technology officer of the Westminster, Colo., company.

The tool not only helps consolidate the number of tools and information about the environment in one place, but allows organizations to keep track of how performance and configuration have changed throughout the environment. "We can collect information from a variety of tools and discovery layers and normalize and convert it to CIM [Common Information Model]-compliant data," Kelley said.

Crosswalk Storage Manager includes two additional modules. The Crosswalk Resource Manager provides detailed application monitoring and reporting, while Crosswalk SAN Manager automatically discovers and maps the storage network to allow an IT manager to monitor and visualize all SAN-connected assets.

By presenting an integrated toolset that creates a common repository for information, Crosswalk is on the right track, said Randy Kerns, senior partner at Evaluator Group Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo.

"Look what has happened in the enterprise data center space," he said. "There have been a lot of point products that have evolved, and the worst thing you can do as a storage professional is to use a lot of tools."

/zimages/2/28571.gifVendors such as IBM and Veritas are using storage virtualization technology to improve application monitoring. Click here to read more.

The midmarket, which Kelley said has traditionally been underserved by storage vendors, is a ripe market for a comprehensive solution like this.

"The major vendors have products that are complicated and vendor-specific and aimed at people who are fairly sophisticated end-users," he said. "But in our estimation, there are between 35,000 and 100,000 enterprises in the United States that are smaller than the large global data centers but bigger than the mom-and-pop shops. They typically have at least a dozen servers, up to a few hundred, that need organization."

Targeting this segment, which traditionally hasnt had many storage products geared specifically to it, is a smart move, Kerns said.

"The enterprise data center market typically has storage professionals on staff—people who do nothing but storage," he said. "But when you go into the SMB space, you are more likely to see occasional users who arent trained on or familiar with the tools available. So, tools designed for this group have to be designed differently. They need a tool that fits their price range and use pattern. Its a high-growth area."

Although there have been a few tools targeted at the midmarket—notably EMCs VisualSAN and VisualSRM—they havent done a very good job of integrating storage network management and storage resource management functionality, Kerns said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here for a review of EMC VisualSAN 3.0.

Crosswalk aims to change that, both with its current offering and in the future. While this first product is focused on doing a better job of collecting information and making it visible through reporting and online tools, future offerings will help organizations collect the information they need to make better decisions regarding equipment procurement and configuration management, Kelley said.

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