Two-Headed System Is Better Than One

SANgate's Linux-based data application tool is designed to manage hybrid storage environments

Businesses trying to save money managing hybrid storage environments will soon have a new solution to consider from SANgate Systems Inc., a startup maker of Linux-based data replication appliances.

The Southboro, Mass., company, formed in mid-1999, plans to launch its first product next spring, President Paul Feresten said.

The product, DataGate, works like an intelligent phone line splitter, sitting transparently between hosts and storage hardware to route and copy data among clusters, Feresten said.

SANgate is talking to storage hardware vendors to be potential partners, Feresten said. Though Feresten didnt name the companies, "the interest level in this product is by companies who are trying to penetrate [the] installed base" of dominant companies such as EMC Corp., of Hopkinton, Mass., he said.

The product will cost "in the six-figure range," Feresten said, but for organizations with multiple storage hardware suppliers, its ultimately less expensive to buy from a neutral third party, he said.

Still, for some IT administrators, it may come down to money.

Despite any possible long-term, total-cost-of-ownership savings, the price "would blow me out of the water," said Susan Nowicke, a network manager for the U.S. Court-Eastern District of Michigan and an eWeek Corporate Partner, based in Allen Park, Mich.

For her 30,000-person organization and others like it, "youd have to have a way to cost-justify it," Nowicke said. "Ive got to believe that would be the case for many organizations."

To help with that justification, the product will serve other needs in the future, Feresten said. For example, it could be used to merge and then replicate data from different company databases, such as a mainframe database and a Windows database.

"We dont want to get into a situation where the only applications running on this ... are ones that we produce," Feresten said. "We dont have a crystal ball, but we think theres tremendous value here."

The appliance will come in two- and four-node versions. Each node will use three Intel Corp. Xeon processors, with 100GB of RAM.

In addition, Feresten said, nodes will be configured for clustering. Beta tests for DataGate will begin either later this summer or in the early fall. The 65-employee company has seven patents pending.