Insider: Users Cite Virtual Savings

NAS users reap benefits of File Storage Virtualization, as they await refinements

February 25, 2006

3 Min Read
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File Storage Virtualization (FSV) technology for NAS may be delivering significant ROI for customers, but IT managers are still keen to see the technology mature, according to the latest Byte and Switch Insider. (See Insider Studies NAS.)

The latest report, entitled, File Storage Virtualization: Toward a Universal NAS, is the second in a two-part virtualization series. Last month, the first installment focused on the pluses and minuses of Block Storage Virtualization (BSV). (See Insider Tackles SAN and Insider: Virtualization Needs Standards.)

Unlike BSV engines, which work at the most basic level of SAN communications, FSVs work with upper-layer file system protocols. In a nutshell, FSVs are devices that use virtualization to transparently aggregate and redirect files to various locations on back-end NAS.

Despite the relative immaturity of FSVs, some firms are already reaping the benefits of the technology. Fortune 500 firm Mohawk Industries, for example, claims to save at least $200,000 implementing FSV software through 300 separate sites.

Whereas IT managers highlighted the need for rigorous testing when implementing BSV engines, they are finding FSV deployments much more straightforward, citing both the "elegance" and the "simplicity" of the technology. "We could implement it without going to any crazy courses to learn how to use it -- now we're using it as the first step in our move to grid," says Martin Cooper, CTO of engineering firm Arup.Elsewhere, companies like Goldman Sachs, Raytheon, and UPS are all adopting NAS virtualization, which spells good news for the prospects of FSV technologies.

This momentum is thanks, in no small part, to the explosion in digital content many firms are experiencing. The most recent figures from analyst firm IDC show NAS growth running at 7.5 percent annually, and Gartner predicts the market will reach $2 billion by 2008. Additionally, a survey by Coughlin Associates suggests a doubling in the NAS market this year alone. Byte and Switch's empirical research confirms this: FSV users we spoke to consistently reported annual growth rates averaging 50 to 75 percent in NAS storage alone.

But the same users are keen to see the technology advance, particularly where NAS pooling is concerned. FSVs are yet to break the bonds of back-end operating systems, which means that storage is "aggregated," rather than truly, "pooled." "Virtualizing as a true pool, the same as current BSV engines, would solve more of our storage challenges," says Ahmar Abbas, VP of e-learning firm Blackboard Inc. "That's an absolutely critical step."

Nonetheless, the future for the FSV market looks rosy. EMC is now pumping its marketing and R&D might into FSV specialist Rainfinity, which it acquired last year. (See EMC to Buy Rainfinity.) This move has also helped buttress the position of other players in this market -- mostly startups such as Acopia, Cloverleaf, NeoPath, and NuView. (See NetApp, Acopia Partner, NAS-tronomical Year in Funding, NeoPath Intros File Director, and NuView Gets Personal.)

James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchPublic companies mentioned in this report include:

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

Private companies mentioned in this report include:

  • Acopia Networks Inc.

  • Cloverleaf Communications Inc.

  • NeoPath Networks

  • NuView Inc.

    File Storage Virtualization: Toward a Universal NAS is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Byte and Switch Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900.

    To subscribe, or for more information, please visit:

    To request a free executive summary of the report, or for details on multi-user licensing options, please contact:Jeff Claudino
    Sales Manager

    Insider Research Services
    [email protected]

    For review copies, members of the media may contact:

    Gabriel Brown
    Chief Analyst
    Insider Research Services

    [email protected]

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