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Archiving Gets a Refresh

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Storage Networking World (SNW) -- Archiving of data that doesn't change over time is a red-hot niche, one that's becoming a proving ground for new kinds of storage, according to a number of suppliers here at SNW.

"We're redefining archiving," says Kirk Dunn, CEO of PowerFile, a startup whose optical DVD-based libraries with CIFS and NFS compatibility are used to store medical records, legal documents, and other data that doesn't change over time but needs to be saved for -- well, in some instances -- forever.

Demand has risen for fixed content to be stored in a fashion that won't burden existing disk storage, yet provide durability beyond tape and the ability to retrieve data quickly, he notes -- hence the emphasis on optical technology that isn't considered useful for primary storage but offers a longer-lived and cost-effective alternative to tape.

Dunn credits the CEO of NetApp, who sits on PowerFile's board, with helping the startup see the value of creating "online archives" for static data. "Dan Warmenhoven told me, 'No one is solving this problem,' " Dunn says. He claims PowerFile has sold roughly 16,000 archiving appliances to about 600 customers, though the company's real future will be based on a brand-new product, its A3 appliance, which was released last month. (See PowerFile Pushes DVD Archiving and PowerFile Adds Archiving.)

PowerFile is targeting customers who think EMC's Centera CAS platform may be too costly and complex. An A3 starter kit with 3.4 Tbytes of permanent storage and 1 Tbyte of front-end cache starts at $15,900 -- considerably less than a typical Centera implementation.

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