Njini's Out of the Bottle

UK startup becomes the latest to enter the rapidly expanding unstructured data management field

May 19, 2005

3 Min Read
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London-based Njiniis poised to jump into the unstructured data management field.

Njini says the startup will launch its first product in two weeks, a software suite called Njini IAM (Information Asset Management), which categorizes and tags unstructured data to allow companies to report on it and manage it as a data object. Once categorized, data can be searched and placed in the proper -- and compliant -- tier of a companys ILM setup.

“They’re trying to become the brains that plug in on top of the ILM infrastructure,” says Taneja Group analyst Brad O’Neill, who calls the product category Njini's addressing "information classification management."

Unstructured data management products are such logical complements to existing storage systems, O'Neill maintains, that Tier 1 vendors will almost certainly partner with and possibly acquire the startups who get it right.

Among the startups involved in this space are Abrevity Inc., Arkivio Inc., and StoredIQ. Kazeon Inc. also is expected to deliver a product in June. Another startup, Scentric, remains in stealth. (See Abrevity, Arkivio Lifts Lid on Automation, Deepfile Becomes StoredIQ, and Kazeon Comes Out.)Few of these vendors have shipping products, and all of them, including Njini, face a big credibility challenge. “They have to prove they have a fully robust product,” O'Neill says.

Njini claims its differentiator is that its software runs on an in-band appliance, while its competitors’ products are (or are planned to be) out-of-band. That means Njini's gear sits in the data path, while others operate on stored data. “We believe data management issues belong in the network, not in storage,” says Njini founder and CTO Phil Tee.

Whether customers want a new appliance in the data path remains to be seen. The in-band versus out-of-band argument has already caused controversy in the area of virtualization (see EMC Router's Ready).

Meanwhile, beginning June 7, Njini will roll out its software, which is based on what it calls its policy engine. Included is an application that will create pointers to documents instead of storing multiple documents, an app that stores data on primary or lower-cost storage according to its value, another app that enforces corporate compliance and retention policies, and one that searches corporate data. Tee won’t say which product will come first.

Njini enters the game with $6.4 million in funding from Accel Partners and Add Partners over two rounds, and 21 employees in the U.K. Founders Tee and Mike Swoboda started network monitoring software vendor Riversoft in the late 1990s and sold it to infrastructure management software company Micromuse Inc. (Nasdaq: MUSE) for $64 million in 2002.Tee says Njini will establish headquarters in the U.S. later this year as it jockeys for position in a new market. Tee likens the unstructured data management space to the relational database field in the 1980s. “Of course, we want to be Oracle -- but nice,” he quips.

As for the startup's name, it's pronounced En-Genie, a play on ingenious. We'll see.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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