By Kevin Komiega
-- F5 Networks today announced a round of software updates for its file virtualization switches and storage management software and began bundling its products at lower prices to entice cost-conscious customers.
The majority of F5's software upgrades are designed to automate and protect tiered storage infrastructures. Version 5.0 of the Data Management Operating System, the common software that runs all of the company's ARX file virtualization switches, includes seamless import functionality that allows users to continue to access file data throughout the implementation process, enhanced data protection for virtualized storage environments (including file tracking for file restoration purposes and virtual snapshot for Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service) and support for Windows 2008.
Also new to the portfolio is Data Manager 2.5, which offers detailed storage reporting and forecasting capabilities in large file storage environments. Data Manager 2.5 serves up information such as file age, types of files and which resources are being consumed, and can project potential cost savings of storage tiering policies based on actual customer data.
F5 is incentivizing its systems with new product bundles aimed at the SMB market. The company is now offering what it calls ARX Fast Start packages, which lower the cost of getting into file virtualization by roughly 50%.
Customers who opt for the ARX Fast Start package get a two-node ARX500 cluster for environments of up to 500 users and 300 million files. F5 product manager Renny Shen says customers can use the Fast Start program, which runs through September, to get their feet wet with file virtualization without a large, upfront investment.
"Customers are interested in file virtualization, but cannot commit to the technology because they don't have the budget [in the case of large enterprises] or they are a small organization that does not have a big enough environment to justify purchasing the technology," says Shen.
The ARX Fast Start packages cost approximately $25,000. The price rises to about $29,000 with one year of maintenance.