By Kevin Komiega
—Tacit Networks expanded its line of wide area file services (WAFS) products down to the smallest of branch offices and remote worker environments today with the introduction of an entry-level WAFS appliance and the acquisition of Mobiliti Inc., a privately held maker of virtual networking, synchronization, and optimization software. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Mobiliti's Windows-based Network/Unplugged software provides centralized data management and protection for laptops and desktops by automatically saving and synchronizing data via the network using file compression and differencing technology. Network/Unplugged also provides cached, virtual online access to network file server content when offline, with no changes required to mapped drives or folders.
"Mobiliti is a logical extension of what we've been doing," says Tacit president Chuck Foley. "We're taking the concept of centralized, consolidated data management down to the desktop. With this software there is no [longer any] need for branch office or remote users to backup their own data."
Prior to the acquisition of Mobiliti and the launch of its new appliance, Tacit's strategy was to centralize the data management tasks associated with medium and large remote offices and consolidate and protect data no matter where it resides. With today's announcements, Tacit is expanding its reach to include small office, home office (SOHO) and mobile workers.
Mobiliti's "write-monitor" differencing technology will be added to Tacit's appliances in the second quarter of this year, and Tacit's WAFS capabilities will be added to Mobiliti's software by year-end.
Tacit has inherited approximately 450 new customers through the acquisition. Mobiliti's customer list includes Shell Oil, Motorola, Dow Chemical, Lucent Technologies, Vodafone, Nokia, and UBS.
Tacit also launched an entry-level version of its caching appliance, dubbed the Ishared Mini, which is priced from about $4,000—about half the starting price of its enterprise-class version—and provides WAFS technology to up to five users in small branch offices.
WAFS technology employs caching techniques to reduce WAN bandwidth utilization and to allow branch offices to access centralized corporate data at LAN-like speeds while the data is managed, stored, and backed up at a central location. In addition, Tacit will offer a suite of applications called Stackable Services, which includes file, e-mail, Web caching, print, networking, and management services.
Foley says Tacit "stripped out" most of the costs associated with its enterprise Ishared appliance. However, he says there is a tradeoff involved with the cost savings.
"The Mini has less horsepower, memory, and disk capacity than the enterprise version, and the $4,000 price will get you up to five user licenses. It's aimed at two- to five-user branch offices," explains Foley. "However, you would not put this into a five-person office if you expect to grow to 20 users over the next year."
The Ishared Mini hardware includes 80GB of disk capacity, up to 2GB of memory, and dual NIC ports.