By Heidi Biggar
Houston-based NuView says it is making it easier for users and IT administrators to manage storage resources in Windows environments, specifically files residing on network-attached storage (NAS) devices. At last month's Storage Networking World, the two-year-old startup announced that it had begun shipping its StorageX software, which is designed to exploit the capabilities of Microsoft's Distributed File System (Dfs) across the enterprise.
"Dfs is an absolute requirement if Microsoft wants to move into the enterprise," says Rahul Mehta, NuView's chief executive officer. But while Dfs is a great underlying virtualization infrastructure that provides a logical view of physical storage, it hasn't fulfilled its promise of finding and managing data on the network, according to Mehta.
Specifically, Mehta points to Microsoft's inability to lasso all Windows storage elements under a single umbrella, as well as to other issues with Dfs' implementation, configuration, administration, and usability. Dfs is a network server component and is included with Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 server products.
"Windows doesn?t have one tool that enables users to manage all their Windows storage elements under a single umbrella," says Mehta. "As storage environments scale, this will become a big piece of users' enterprise storage requirements."
"Imagine the complexity of a user installation with 20 500GB NAS devices spread over a wide-area network (WAN)," says Mehta. "That's a lot of data and a lot of files." StorageX not only provides an "index" to these files, but other tools to help install, configure, monitor, and scale the storage environment and to make files highly available.
"StorageX offers users the ability to create a much better NAS management methodology," says Steve Duplessie, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group consulting firm in Milford, MA. "It creates a 'virtualized' NAS environment in which users can create a load-balanced single system across many NAS boxes for maximum performance."
In addition to performance benefits, Mehta claims StorageX can also drive down total cost of ownership (TCO) and can significantly boost user and administrator productivity.
While StorageX is currently restricted to Windows environments, Mehta says that the possibility exists of applying the technology to other operating systems as well as to non-Dfs-based technologies. NuView is also assessing opportunities to partner with other (non-file-level) virtualization players for database applications.
"StorageX is a great technology when you are dealing with files," explains Mehta, "but our weakness is database files. That?s when you want volume-level virtualization products." Over the long term, the answer may be a product that integrates the two, he says.
StorageX is available on an OEM, reseller, and direct-sales basis. The company is also working with EMC through its E-Infostructure Developers Program to integrate StorageX with Symmetrix and Celerra arrays. The software will reportedly be used to ease the management of the replication process (via SRDF) in that environment.