Data Dynamics resurrects StorageX for file migration

Data Dynamics buys intellectual property of Brocade's StorageX file virtualization software, develops its file migration and management capabilities.

Data Dynamics Inc. has come out of stealth with StorageX file management software originally developed by NuView Systems and acquired by Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

The Teaneck, N.J.-based newcomer has a different use case in mind for the software, casting it as a data migration tool for network-attached storage filers such as NetApp FAS systems and EMC VNX and Isilon platforms. StorageX includes phased migration policies to move CIFS and NFS data, and it also handles data tiering and storage provisioning.

The core intellectual property for StorageX 7.0 was developed by NuView more than 10 years ago as part of what many in the storage arena believed was an emerging wave of file virtualization. SAN switch vendor Brocade acquired NuView in 2006 for $60 million, but had little success with the software and shut down its file virtualization platform in 2010. Brocade ended support for StorageX last year and sold the intellectual property to Data Dynamics.

Data Dynamics has rebuilt the product as a data migration and file management tool to harness the growing unstructured data market.

"They added functions to the product, but the main part still is the base product," said Marc Staimer, senior analyst at Beaverton, Ore.-based Dragon Slayer Consulting. "They are taking file virtualization and applying it for management. They are trying to do a better job than Brocade because Brocade really didn't doing anything with the product after acquiring it."

StorageX 7.0 is integrated with NetApp Data Ontap, EMC VNX and EMC Isilon application programming interfaces (APIs) so data migration can be done within and across those systems. Customers can use it to migrate from a NetApp filer to an EMC filer or vice versa.

"Migrating is a big challenge," said Data Dynamics CEO Piyush Mehta. "Most customers don't have a strategy. They use rsync or Robocopy and throw a bunch of consultants at the problem. That is extremely risky. We have made some major changes to what the product used to do."

The software resides on a VMware hypervisor and uses replication agents to pull data from the source and push it to the targets. It supports both CIFS shares and NFS exports within a single console. It moves data while it's still in use. It takes an initial copy and makes subsequent copies of the changes. It also detects NFS and CIFS access controls or security permissions and ensures file attributes are migrated correctly.

StorageX version 7.0 is priced starting at $500 per migrated terabyte.

"The migration piece is key to the whole solution," said Greg Schulz, founder of the Stillwater, Minn.-based consultant firm StorageIO. "It discovers what you have. You get a list of servers, but it also finds anything in those servers and reports back. It gives you an inventory of the file data. It reports on the type of files, directory trees and file system volumes."

Schulz said that by talking to the APIs and crawling the metadata for NetApp or EMC filers, StorageX can reduce traffic and overhead.

"They can detect changes a lot faster because of how they have written their algorithms," Schulz said. "They have intelligent copying capability that benefits customers who are doing migrations when data is in use or doing repetitive migrations."

Data Dynamics' Mehta said StorageX can design a migration scenario and policy via its dashboard. It helps identify any potential problems, such as validating that the volume name on the initiator and destination side are the same. Policies can be designed for data tiering for archiving while managing distributed file systems (DFS).

Mehta said future versions will include DFS policy automation, enhanced policy management and reporting, public cloud integration, and support for Amazon Simple Storage Service object-based storage.

Data Dynamics has 14 employees, according to Mehta, and is funded by angel investors. The vendor also has something few early-stage startups have -- hundreds of customers. It inherited an installed base of approximately 300 customers using StorageX software sold by previous owners, Mehta said.

"A lot of startups at this point don't have revenue," StorageIO's Schulz said. "Data Dynamics has revenue and customers. So yeah, they are a startup, but they have an installed base. They now have to get new customers."

Getting customers has been a challenge for NuView and similar products. EMC acquired NuView competitor Rainfinity, Cisco bought NeoPath Networks and F5 bought Acopia Networks around the same time that Brocade acquired NuView.

Cisco killed the NeoPath product line almost immediately, and EMC no longer sells Rainfinity. F5 sells the Acopia ARX product, but generated only $3.5 million in revenue from its last quarter and doesn't appear to be putting many development resources into it. Another file virtualization startup, Attune Networks, went out of business and sold its intellectual property to F5 in 2009.

Mehta said the recast StorageX is different from earlier file virtualization products that sold as hardware appliances.

"We're not an appliance," he said. "The beauty of this is [that] it sits on a virtual machine."

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