Enterprises with mainframe data in SANs have special problems. Corigin's trying to beat'em

February 4, 2004

3 Min Read
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Chances are good that any high-end enterprise SAN today includes some mainframe connectivity. And, according to Corigin Ltd., a 10-year-old company with an eye on the enterprise SAN segment, that's both a problem and an opportunity.

Companies that use their SANs to retrieve data from open systems as well as mainframes, Corigin says, continue to struggle with the disparities in the two computing environments. File structures are different; access paths in and out of the SAN are different; and one, the mainframe, is a lot more expensive to use.

Consider a company taking orders all day through its Unix-based corporate database. At various points, the input data must be added to the corporate invoice system, which is on the mainframe. Even with a SAN in place, it's often necessary to go back to the mainframe to read or write data for the update. That takes time -- and it consumes MIPS (millions of instructions per second), the measure associated with running the expensive processor at the heart of an MVS-based mainframe.

According to Gartner/Dataquest, MIPS represents anywhere from $11,000 to $12,000 in costly mainframe resources annually. Since most applications consume about 40 MIPS per year, it's clear mainframe space is like your grandmother's living room -- nice to look at, but not a place to hang out for very long.

Enter Corigin, founded in 1995 as NewFrame in Israel, but now headquartered in Princeton, N.J. Its product, the Mainframe Data Sharing suite, runs on Unix or NT servers positioned between the mainframe controller and the SAN system or appliance. It extracts mainframe data and delivers copies of it to the SAN, in an ANSI SQL-92 format. Users linked to the SAN can retrieve the information without tapping into the mainframe, or fiddling around with conversions on their open systems.Because data is retrieved in bulk and then stored for SAN use, users are spared costly repeat trips to the mainframe. The Fibre Channel link between the mainframe's controller and the Corigin server ensures that data is retrieved quickly. Corigin's software also takes care of securing access to the mainframe data.

Corigin's proposition has proven attractive to a handful of big customers, including AXA Financial Inc., First International Bank of Israel, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which are using it for applications like the one noted above. Corigin cites data warehousing, financial reporting, and customer resource management (CRM) as its likeliest prospects.

It may surprise some that Corigin hasn't broken into more SANs. But then again, its application is highly specialized. Further, its competition includes products from mainframe-attached vendors that typically sell utilities with their own controllers. Examples include InfoMover from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and RapidExchange from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

One of these rivals sees potential for reselling Corigin's wares, which don't require the use of a particular vendor's hardware. HDS has been reselling Corigin software to customers in the U.K. since 2002.

Corigin execs don't seem to mind if the pace to success is more slow and steady than Olympian. Product development continues: Besides supporting Escon and Fibre Channel mainframe links, Corigin software will shortly support Ficon, IBM's proprietary connection.Prospects seem solid. Company headcount has grown from 15 to about 30 over the last couple of years. And a new CEO, Amnon Pressler, late of BroadLight Inc. and RAD Data Communications Ltd., has come aboard in the last two months. The company hasn't specified the reason he replaced former CEO Yoram Kariv, who in turn replaced founder Tsvi Misinai, in January 2002.

Corigin sought VC funding and got $5 million two years ago for the first time (see Corigin Raises $5M in Financing). It's now pursuing its second round for an undisclosed sum.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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