StorLife has launched a hardware-independent content-addressable storage (CAS) offering and has announced alliances with Microsoft, SAP, and CA to take it to market.
Alan Kilduff, director of software development at Dublin-based StorLife, said the company was formed in 2004 as a spin-out from document management developer SoftCo which saw opportunities for the storage technology beyond that of an adjunct to its own offerings.
The company’s eponymous product is software that a customer deploys on a Windows server or in a Grid environment to interact with an existing storage area network in order to move unstructured data such as emails and file systems into a content-addressable volume for archival and compliance purposes. For this reason, the technology delivers the data in Write-Once, Read-Many format so that it can be guaranteed inviolate.
Kilduff said StorLife competes with CAS offerings from a number of major vendors, all of which tie their products to accompanying hardware. First among these is the Centera from EMC, which was also the pioneer of the CAS concept. NetApp offers the SnapLock facility on its hardware and HP offers its RISS product, for instance.
Many of these products have a proprietary API for software developers to write their backup, archival, and ILM apps to in order to use it as their back end, though the Centera also offers a standard file system interface. Even so, about 80% of apps that work with Centera use the direct API because you get a better handshake, said Kilduff.
StorLife also has a proprietary API as well as offering a file system interface, and Kilduff cited examples of partners for each option. CA is developing integration with StorLife for its Message Manager, he said, while French developer ITESoft is using a standard file system interface. All the email archiving vendors are moving to a driver model with an intermediate layer that enables them to use a heterogeneous back end. They all like CAS, but EMC has its own email archiving technology with EmailXtender, so they don’t want to get muscled out.
Other partners include SAP, which has begun offering its software as complementary to its ERP technology under its SAP Package Services. We’re sold as a package with SAP in the UK, US, South Africa and Australia, said Kilduff.
Finally there is Microsoft, which obviously looks kindly on any app vendor that runs on its OS rather than on Linux or BSD. We’ve been selected by Microsoft as a Gold Partner, forming part of their ISV community in the UK working on the country’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), said Kilduff. MiFID is the regulatory framework for the financial sector that comes into effect on November 1.
StorLife is developing a two-tier distribution model in western Europe. It has signed up ACAL as a master distributor for the UK, Germany, France, and Benelux, while for other geographies it will pursue OEM relationships and the kinds of partnerships it already has with CA and SAP.
As for its differentiation in the market, Colin Kaye, managing director of StorLife in the UK, cited its hardware-independence, the fact that it runs on Windows, and its pricing, particularly when most of its competitors come with an indispensable hardware component.
StorLife is licensed by volume of storage that a customer intends to dedicate and manage as CAS, which is different from regular archive in that data in a CAS store is given a unique digital fingerprint rather than merely being referenced by its position. Kaye said an entry-level license for StorLife, supporting up to 250GB of CAS storage, is 3,000 pounds ($5,960). The big difference is that it can be a bolt-on to an existing SAN, so if you take a license supporting 4TB from us you’ll pay 27,000 pounds ($53,650), whereas a competing offering with hardware would cost you 129,000 pounds ($256,000), he said.
Kilduff acknowledged that there are other small players in the market offering software-only CAS including Austin, Texas-based Caringo, but they run on a proprietary Linux kernel, he said.
StorLife makes a compelling argument for hardware-independent CAS and suggests that email archiving developers who are not part of a storage system vendor are also keen on being able to link with a heterogeneous back end.