Deepfile Comes to the Surface

Startup uses metadata to better manage files on NAS storage, angling for a deal with NetApp

March 21, 2003

3 Min Read
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NAS management startup Deepfile Corp. is putting the finishing touches on its file management appliances and has Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) in its sights as a potential OEM partner.

Founded in 2001, Deepfile has raised just over $1 million in funding from investors including Techxas Ventures; Neil Webber, cofounder of Vignette Software Corp; and Brian Smith, CEO of Crossroads Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CRDS). [Ed. note: Whoooo! Last of the big spenders...]

The Austin, Texas, startup has already been shipping the first of its appliances, Deepfile Auditor, for a couple of months and has two customers, Vignette and Polycom.

Auditor crawls through a file system, pulling out metadata on every file, which it saves to a database on the appliance. Each file is given a unique signature that lets the appliance compare files for similarities even if they have different names and locations. It then reports the files, their locations, and their characteristics to the second product, Deepfile Enforcer, which is slated to ship by midyear.

Based on policies set by the IT manager, Enforcer will cull duplicate files and directories and migrate older, still-useful files to less-expensive storage or tape, the company says. "We are applying file management principles to the SRM [storage resource management] problem," says Jeff Erramouspe, CEO of Deepfile. He adds that companies have deployed NAS for file storage with very little focus on creating management tools in a holistic way. "We should be thinking about managing the files rather than the disk capacity, as the file is the business asset," Erramouspe believes.In other words, Deepfile is keen to differentiate itself from the horde of other SRM companies that are struggling to keep it together (see BMC Folds Storage Unit, EMC to Acquire Prisa, Finally, IBM Snaps Up TrelliSoft, Astrum Catches 11 Sweet Ones, and MonoSphere Whirls Out).

"SRM vendors are coming at it from the physical end of the disk... We look at metadata about the file," he says. But however you want to characterize it, the goal is to better utilize the hardware resources you already have -- and Deepfile will face plenty of competition with this message (see our reports on Policy-Based Storage and SAN Management).

It appears that Deepfile's closest competitor is startup Arkivio Inc., whose software similarly analyzes data and moves it to various storage resources based on preset policies. This week, Arkivio released a Unix version of its Auto-Stor product (see Arkivio Adds Unix Support and Arkivio Lifts Lid on Automation).

At least one analyst we talked to thinks Deepfile has a good shot at making it. "Unlike most SRM and ARM [automated resource management] solutions, Deepfile's software does not use agents," says Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. Instead, she says, it "mounts the file system, scans what is on the file system, and the information is then recorded and 'analyzed,' producing correlated reports."

Both Deepfile products will work with Windows NT and 2000 file servers, Unix systems, and NAS devices. Auditor is available now starting at $10,000 for an initial 2 Tbytes of data managed per year. Enforcer will be available in the second quarter starting at $25,000.With just 10 employees today, Deepfile plans to stay lean and mean for as long it can -- and is ultimately hoping Network Appliance will take the company under its wing. "We've had interest at the field level with NetApp," Erramouspe claims. "There's definitely opportunities for us to work together."

Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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