Tiny firm claims to solve big ILM problem

December 23, 2004

2 Min Read
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A firm so small it doesn't even have a Website yet claims to have solved a major problem -- namely, providing policy-based information lifecycle management (ILM) for Windows servers.

Abrevity Inc., based in San Jose, Calif. and boasting just 12 employees, claims most products for ILM don't help customers benefit from tiered storage, because they rely on file-system metadata that is too broad to provide the granular classification ILM requires. It's a well documented problem (see Veritas's Future Is Scrutinized). Abrevity's alternative is a package named FileBase, which it says is far more granular than current products.

On the face of it, the claim is puzzling because Abrevity's FileBase seems to work like several other ILM packages: It extracts information about files from Windows servers and uses that to create and implement file policies, such as which files should be moved to cheaper long-term storage.

Abrevity claims its secret is being able to recognize and parse directory path information in CIFS-based file systems. According to Abrevity cofounder Joel Harrison, formerly of Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS), using file systems to create metadata for ILM is limited by what the file system can report -- usually, a handful of criteria, such as file extension. FileBase goes way beyond this, Harrison says, not only using the file-system criteria but sorting through the different elements of a file name to find consistencies with other names, and matching that data to what's found in multiple directory paths.

Initially, Abrevity is selling FileBase as a service with an option to buy the software. At least one customer has signed on for the software, and several more are in the pipeline, Harrison says.The company says firms in biotechnology and science are particularly attracted to FileBase because they use complicated internal naming schemes for files, and Abrevity's product can make sense of where these are stored in a short time.

Abrevity's service is priced at $5,000 for scanning and reporting on up to 1 Tbyte of data; beyond that, the company charges $1,500 per Tbyte.

On the downside, it's tough to evaluate Abrevity's claims without probing the nature of other ILM products. But until that can be done, the idea that Abrevity is different remains unproven. Also, FileBase helps to create ILM policies, but it does not have an integral capability to do so. Another product must be deployed to implement policies formed with FileBase input.

None of this concerns Joel Harrison, who says Abrevity is on solid footing. Even lack of VC funding won't hinder him, he says. "We're on a path for success... Funding would empower our growth, but even without it we're on track for an excellent future."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch0

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