EMC Centera Gets a Translator

Licenses software from startup Storigen to convert Centera-speak into standard file calls

June 12, 2003

3 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) has inked a licensing deal with startup Storigen Systems Inc. for software that translates EMC's Centera proprietary interface into standard file protocols -- providing a workaround for one of the system's most obvious shortcomings.

Introduced a year ago, EMC's Centera is a high-end storage system purpose-built to store massive amounts of "fixed content," data that doesn't change once it's been created, using inexpensive ATA-based disk drives (see EMC Has Eyes for Huge Archives).

But one of the barriers to Centera's adoption, apart from the $100,000-plus starting price, has been that it requires applications to be rewritten so they can speak a proprietary Centera application programming interface (API).

The Storigen software, which runs on a standard Linux-based PC, eliminates that requirement. It acts as a translation gateway between Centera's API and standard Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS) protocols, allowing applications that haven't been rewritten for Centera to access the system.

"From a business perspective, it broadens the overall audience for Centera without having to worry about writing to its API," says Tony Prigmore, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc.EMC has actually been reselling the Storigen software as the Centera Application Gateway, priced starting at $15,000 (not including server hardware), for about the past the six months. The software caches metadata about the content stored in Centera, and Storigen claims it's able to handle up 100 million objects per gateway.

However, there's a certain amount of functionality customers lose if they're using the Storigen gateway. It does not currently support the full regulatory-compliance features in Centera, such as information shredding and the ability to enforce retention period (see EMC Makes Centera Compliant). The gateway also doesn't support Centera's content-authentication features.

EMC spokesman AJ Ragosta says between 5 percent and 7 percent of the company's Centera customers would have a need for such a gateway. EMC sees the Centera Application Gateway primarily as an offering for customers that haven't upgraded to the Centera-enabled applications. "If it's a long-time Documentum Inc. customer that may want to upgrade on the next rev, they would use this in the interim," he says.

Dennis Hoffman, president and CEO of Storigen, sees an even bigger opportunity to tap the hundreds of applications that will never be rejiggered for Centera. "There are 60 partners writing to Centera, but they know that not everyone will write to the API," he says. He adds that main areas in which Storigen's gateway has found traction have been medical imaging, document archiving, and scanned-image archiving.

EMC picked Storigen over other vendors that have developed file-translation gateways for Centera, including Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO) and FileTek Corp. Under the agreement, EMC also has the option to resell Storigens entire product line, including its Distributed Storage Network (DSN) file-caching appliances.For the Lowell, Mass.-based Storigen, the EMC deal gives it both an imprimatur of credibility and a potentially gigantic new sales channel. The 58-person company, founded in June 2000, has so far signed up fewer than 10 customers for its file-caching system (see Storigen Ships Cache of Many Colors and Storigen Reels in $10M More).

— Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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