StorageTek Rolls Its Own CAS

Develops its own archiving system, dropping Permabit like a stale butt

June 9, 2005

3 Min Read
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Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) is entering the Content Addressable Storage (CAS) space again, this time "for real" and with its own home-grown system (see StorageTek Touts IntelliStore).

StorageTek today announced IntelliStore, an archiving system developed to compete with EMC Corp.'s (NYSE: EMC) Centera and Hewlett-Packard Co.s (NYSE: HPQ) Reference Information Storage System (RISS).

If this sounds familiar, that’s because in January 2005 StorageTek began selling a CAS system it calls Lifecycle Fixed Content Manager 100, which it acquired through an OEM deal with startup Permabit Inc. (see StorageTek Taps Permabit's CAS Act). But StorageTek maintains that was a temporary measure until it finished its own CAS system. Brenda Zawatski, VP of StorageTek’s ILM group, says IntelliStore was in development for two years.

One could argue that any StorageTek product might be temporary because the company is in the process of being devoured by Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). (See Sun to Acquire StorageTek for $4.1B.) But Intellistore (code-named Trinity, oddly enough) has been a major part of StorageTek’s roadmap, and StorageTek insiders and analysts expect it to make the cut when Sun decides what products to keep from the combined companies.

Sun executives "were briefed on this, and they said they’re committed to the product roadmap,” Zawatski says. “Obviously, we’re under a gag order not to say anything more.”No such gag order exists with Permabit, which StorageTek is summarily dropping. Zawatski points out Permabit’s product will remain on StorageTek’s price list but is “lower end, doesn’t do tape, and doesn’t have the performance [of IntelliStore]. That was for customers who couldn’t wait for our solution. We haven’t actively marketed it.” Slaapppp!

Highlights of IntelliStore include:

  • The FlexLine 600 SATA disk array that StorageTek announced last October but is just now delivering (see StorageTek Flexes Disk)

  • Policy management and data classification software

  • The option to connect to StorageTek SL500 and SL800 midrange and enterprise tape libraries (see StorageTek Slings SL500)

  • Optional archive and compliance consulting through third-party firms

StorageTek refers to IntelliStore as “intelligent archiving” rather than CAS, which is a term EMC came up with for Centera in 2002 (see EMC Has Eyes for Huge Archives). But analysts say it fits the CAS space because it handles fixed data that will not change once stored. StorageTek is also planning to add features like metadata search that are typically found in CAS.

“It’s a good stepping stone for StorageTek, and so far Sun has not made a dent in this market,” says analyst Brad O’Neill of the Taneja Group. “I would expect them to keep rolling out features, such as increased compression and search.”

Zawatski says IntelliStore allows customers to run different applications on the same box, while Centera requires different nodes for different applications. Also, StorageTek claims tape is the major differentiator for its system, while other storage competitors such as Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) rely on disk only.Archiving is the one application where tape is still considered better suited than disk.

Tape was also a major reason for Sun’s acquisition of StorageTek. Sun already has disk products, but StorageTek gives it a huge chunk of the tape market. “Look, tape revenue is unlikely to grow 50% a year, but there's no question customers will store more data on tape next year than this,” wrote Sun president Jonathan Schwartz on his blog recently. “It's still by far the most economic storage medium on the planet … Is tape sexy? … How about $1/cpu hour? Price performance is sexy.”

The inclusion of tape could allow Sun to position IntelliStore differently than its Honeycomb object-based archiving project, which is due to churn out product late this year (see Sun Pushes Into NAS ).

IntelliStore is expected to begin shipping later this month. Pricing begins at $75,000 for 4 Tbytes of disk, and $9,000 for each additional Tbyte. The tape libraries and consulting are priced separately.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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