Incipient Automates Data Migration

Branches off storage virtualization with a more saleable enterprise package

June 12, 2008

4 Min Read
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Incipient has detoured from its storage virtualization charter with a new product it claims will reduce enterprise data migration costs dramatically.

The Waltham, Mass.-based startup, which has garnered nearly $95 million in funding, has been patiently building sales among large enterprises for its storage virtualization product, the Incipient Network Storage Platform (iNSP). Now, it is hitting the streets with something it hopes will sell a lot faster.

The Incipient Automated Data Migration package (iADM) is software that sits on a host computer in a SAN (running any of the leading OSs) and automatically discovers information about SAN elements in order to automatically move data from one host or array to another using any vendor's data mover software. A network-based appliance is also offered for those who prefer that approach.

Unlike iNSP, iADM does not perform any virtualization, although it will work with virtualized storage from iNSP. Instead, its task is to act as a kind of process automation tool for data migrations, seeking out where volumes are, determining which machines to map those volumes to, and then accomplishing the changeover.

At least one analyst, who asked not to be named, thinks iADM is unique. "Nobody else has automated the process of data migration, not EMC, not IBM," says the analyst. "You can automate some ILM tasks with software like Moonwalk's, but you can't automate the actual migration of data from one array to another."Instead, IT pros have been relying on a variety of techniques to move data from one system to another for capacity management, array changes, or data center moves and consolidations, Incipient says. These include using scripts, spreadsheets, complicated plans, and expensive outside services. Indeed, actually moving the data is the least of it: The process of getting to that point is usually manual and painful for IT.

"Even if you hire EMC, IBM Global Services, HP, or GlassHouse, there's very little you can do during the migration, and nobody supplies any process automation," says Robert Infantino, SVP of marketing and alliances at Incipient. "It can take months."

And it's costly: According to Incipient, the growth of data volumes in many large outfits has made data migration costs skyrocket. And at $5,000 per Tbyte per year for movement services, the vendor claims it's not getting any cheaper.

iADM maps LUNs from hosts to arrays or vice versa, autoprovisions array LUN masking, and supports host reconfiguration and multipath drivers. It works with any data mover software, such as EMC's SRDF. It provides a project management portal with customizable role-based views and offers customizable workflows. It can operate in any SAN based on Brocade or Cisco Fibre Channel switches.

What's not to love? iADM works only with Fibre Channel; it won't work with iSCSI SANs. It's not yet available, but will ship in the second quarter of this year, Incipient says. And when it does, it will be pricey: an estimated $2,000 to $2,500 per terabyte.Incipient also won't give out information on prospective customers, though it claims to have at least one large financial customer using the product.

Despite these potential drawbacks, the analyst quoted above is optimistic about Incipient's latest release. "I spoke with their customer, and he says he's saving half on data migrations," the analyst says. "With iADM, customers can eliminate the labor associated with data migration in the past, and it doesn't matter what SAN or data mover you have."

iADM could help Incipient accelerate its growth, something it's been working hard to do. With roughly 70 employees and new data centers in Chicago and Atlanta (in addition to ones in London and New York City), the vendor has been living patiently with the long lead times required to close virtualization sales -- cycles that can take up to three years. Like IBM and EMC, Incipient hasn't gotten rich on storage virtualization. But the supplier thinks sales of iADM should close in a fraction of the time, giving the vendor fresh opportunity for its core technology.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • GlassHouse Technologies Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IBM Global Services

  • Incipient Inc.

  • Moonwalk Inc.0

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