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Mark Lewis: Page 9 of 15

Lewis: That is still in the future for us. The VersaStor product is designed to place a virtual layer in a storage network such that the storage itself doesn't carry any requirement for brand or type, so that product will do that. Every step we are taking moves us further down that road, so we're telling our customers, "Nope, you can't do that today, but we are building multivendor SANs. You still have to have some partitioning, but over time we'll build the functionality to make it more ubiquitous."

Byte and Switch: What sort of administrative or storage management savings can be achieved with virtualization?

Lewis: We believe right now with virtualization, you are going to get savings focused in three or four areas. The first is a pure capacity savings. We believe that virtualization can be up to 40 percent more efficient at storing data than even a present SAN is today. To put that another way, we believe we can take storage utilization from roughly 70 to 75 percent to over 95 percent utilization of raw capacity. So, virtualization will let you use more of the storage you've already got lying around. The pure management savings through virtualization -- we believe that by putting in a common virtualization and management layer, you'll be able to manage three times more storage with the same number of administrators. So there are major savings there.

Another big savings of this format is in reducing unplanned downtime and, as a corollary to that, improving business flexibility. These are both soft costs, but very important ones. Virtualization will enable you to grow volumes, shrink volumes, move or reconfigure your SAN -- do all of these things that used to require you to take down your servers, do reboots, and so forth. [With virtualization] you'll be able to do that online. Elimination of planned and unplanned downtime is huge for companies right now. This will save companies literally millions of dollars in terms of lost productivity.

One of the issues businesses have always had was having the wrong resources in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's the old manufacturing line problem of having two lines, one building product A and the other building product B in accordance with sales forecasts. Then, reality comes along and you need double the amount of product A and half the amount of product B -- you can't switch. By pooling your storage, it's like building one manufacturing line that can build anything. You have complete flexibility to respond to whatever happens with an application. It's hard to quantify that savings, but it's one that customers understand.