Brocade buys file virtualization vendor

By Kevin Komiega

—Switch-and-director specialist Brocade does not want to be known as just a switch-and-director specialist anymore. In an effort to morph from a Fibre Channel switch-maker into an overall data management provider, Brocade this week announced the acquisition of NuView, a developer of enterprise file management software.

NuView's software suite consists of five components aimed at managing different aspects of file-level data. Its flagship product, StorageX, was designed for IT environments with large NAS farms. StorageX virtualizes files and allows users to add, consolidate, migrate, and automate the fail-over of heterogeneous servers and NAS appliances in distributed environments.

The company plans to eventually integrate StorageX with the Brocade Tapestry Wide Area File Services (WAFS) solution with the ultimate goal of managing and consolidating files across branch offices and data centers.

StorageX supports the CIFS and NFS protocols across all of the major NAS platforms and also supports Microsoft's Distributed File System (DFS). NuView's other products—MyView, File Lifecycle Manager (FLM), Data on Demand Manager (DDM), and Universal Naming Convention (UNC)—tackle other aspects of file management, such as migration, recovery, security, and administration.

NuView is known as a NAS virtualization company, but Brocade says it has no plans to become a player in the NAS space.

"We have been expanding into services related to accessing, consolidating, and controlling file-level data, but we are not getting into NAS. Our partners already address that market," explains Truls Myklebust, senior director of Brocade's file business unit.

According to Brocade's chief technology officer, Dan Crain, the line between block- and file-level data will soon be gone.

"NAS and SAN are arbitrary definitions and they are quite old at this point," says Crain. "We're not interested in the definitions. We are interested in providing access to storage networks. The notion of NAS and SAN is hopefully devolving into a shared storage network."

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, says Brocade has been looking at different ways to add value to its Tapestry product line and its entrenched footprint in storage networking. Brocade believes NuView's integration with Microsoft's DFS adds that value.

"If [Brocade] can take the NuView code core and run the DFS control elements on the Rhapsody platform it would give them some pretty awesome power for both block and file data," says Duplessie.

The key for the "new" Brocade, according to Duplessie, is to offer customers new features and functions without requiring them to "rip and replace" their legacy gear.

Brocade launched its Tapestry products and services late last year with the debut of Tapestry Data Migration Manager (DMM) and an updated version of the SilkWorm Multiprotocol Router for SAN distance extensions over WANs. Brocade is also now offering SAN Design and Architecture Assessment, WAFS optimization, and MetaSAN Integration services.

"We're expanding beyond our Fibre Channel switch-and-director roots," says Brocade's Crain. "But we're not necessarily becoming a software company. Our SilkWorm business is about providing connectivity, while Tapestry is about controlling and managing data."

NuView is not the only NAS virtualization vendor. Acopia Networks, NeoPath Networks, and EMC (via its acquisition of Rainfinity) also offer virtualized network file management. In addition, Network Appliance OEMs NuView's StorageX.

This article was originally published on March 08, 2006