Acopia Goes Remote

Looks to reach remote sites and companies that won't pay for bigger boxes

June 1, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Acopia Networks Inc. is pushing out a baby brother of its file virtualization switch, with the smaller version aimed primarily at remote sites.

The ARX500 mimics Acopias bigger switches, the ARX6000 and ARX100, which connect to NAS gateways and provide a global namespace that lets customers manage storage from multiple devices and locations as though it were in one place. But the newbie costs substantially less, comes in a 1U form factor -- and supports less throughput.

The move is a double-edged sword for Acopia. On one hand, it could pump up volume for the startup. On the other, it brings Acopia into even more competition with rising products and players.

Though its technology has won high praise, Acopia has attracted only around 20 paying customers over its first year of shipping products -- not bad, but not on a hoped-for scale (see Acopia Wins Leading Lights Award and Acopia Ships Its Switch).

At least one analyst thinks going smaller could spread the word. “This brings them into remote offices, but there are also people in smaller companies who want to try the technology out to see if they want it,” says analyst John Webster of Data Mobility Group.The ARX500 is due next month with a list price of $24,995, compared to $55,000 for the ARX1000 and $150,000 for the ARX6000. Because customers usually buy the switches in pairs for high availability, the price difference between a typical ARX500 and ARX6000 installation is around $250,000. The 1U-high ARX500 is also smaller than the 2U-high ARX100 and the 13U-high ARX6000.

There’s a big difference in performance, too. The bigger switches support far larger sustained application throughput, which lets them handle more files. Acopia claims the ARX6000 has a sustained throughput of 2.6 Gbyte/s, with the ARX1000 around 400 Mbyte/s, and the new ARX500 at 100 Mbytes/s.

Acopia doesn't see a tradeoff here. “Customers will decide by the size of their enterprise, not by features,” Acopia marketing VP Brendon Howe says. “They all do the same thing.”

From Acopia’s standpoint, the ideal customer would install ARX6000 or ARX1000 switches in the data center, with an ARX1000 or ARX500 in a department, regional headquarters, or remote site. Putting switches in the data center and remote sites allows for disaster recovery and remote application distribution.

By targeting remote sites, Acopia moves beyond merely competing with other global namespace startups such as NuView Inc. and Rainfinity (see NuView Expands Namespace). It also bumps into wide-area files services (WAFS) vendors, where major players such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) are weighing in by buying or partnering with startups. (See Cisco Acts on Actona, Cisco Chomps FineGround, Brocade Invests in Tacit, and HP in Deal With Riverbed, Sources Say.)Acopia’s switches don’t directly compete with WAFS -- WAFS streamlines file delivery to remote sites, while Acopia pools data from multiple NAS systems. Still, companies might choose one or the other rather than implement two new technologies at remote sites. Depending on a customer's approach and reliance on NAS, the choice may or may not work in Acopia's favor.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights