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Times N on Trial: Page 2 of 3

Other vendors, including FalconStor Software Inc. and DataCore Software provide virtualization as well, with a slightly different take. FalconStor, for instance, provides its IPStor servers as go-betweens for servers and virtualized NAS and SAN devices. Like Times N's solution, it uses its own high-speed protocol to link servers and virtualized storage.

Times N says it's different from FalconStor because it virtualizes direct-attached storage at a low price, making it possible for medium-sized companies to get faster I/O without having to buy Fibre Channel gear or high-end servers. In contrast, FalconStor seems to specialize in virtualizing higher-end SAN and NAS devices.

Times N feels its product should appeal to a small or midsized business, where a complex SAN or NAS hasn't yet been installed. Lewis says that at $29,000 to $65,000 for an entry-level configuration, Times N's solution could provide an attactive alternative for companies not willing to install a rudimentary Fibre Channel SAN configuation at $55,000 to $80,000, or a high-end server starting at $40,000.

"Our customers have an array of really interesting proposed applications," Lewis says. But word on just who's using the gear for what purposes won't be released until sales are firmed up.

On the downside, Times N's product doesn't work with RISC machines, such as Sun workstations, although Lewis says there's no reason it couldn't be made to do so. Also, it remains to be seen whether Times N can sufficiently differentiate itself from the likes of FalconStor in order to made headway in an increasingly competitive market.