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A Baby Step for Storage Virtualization

Startup Incipient is ready to ship its long-awaited intelligent switch software, giving competition to EMC's Invista and a glimmer of hope to customers who believe block storage virtualization belongs in the switch.

The Incipient Network Storage Platform (NSP) will ship this fall for the Cisco MDS 9000 Storage Services Module (SSM). (See Cisco Seeks Intelligence.) The NSP is Incipient's first product after five years and $79 million in funding. (See Incipient Still Incipient.) Like Invista, NSP is designed to run on intelligent switches and turn storage on disparate systems into one pool.

While IBM's network-based SAN Volume Controller (SVC) was launched in 2003, and Hitachi Data Systems' controller-based virtualization in TagmaStore came out in 2004, customers have had to wait for a switch-based enterprise product. (See EMC & IBM in Virtual Skirmish and Hitachi Struts Mr. Universal.) Many are still waiting. More than a year after loudly launching Invista, EMC has yet to name any customers, although a spokesman claims "dozens of large customers in various stages of evaluation and production." (See EMC Unveils Invista.)

Incipient's first announced customer says he's been frustrated for years by a lack of switch-based virtualization.

"That it's taken us this long to get virtualization in the fabric absolutely makes me nuts," says Jeff Boles, IT manager for the city of Mesa, Arizona. "I've been a proponent of virtualization in the fabric for a long time. Thats the most stable long-term part of your environment. People don't forklift their fabric every three years."

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