NeoPath Opens Up

Stealthy startup reveals NAS product

December 4, 2004

2 Min Read
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Startup NeoPath Networks has disclosed details of its clandestine NAS development in advance of Monday's product launch.

The announcement follows almost a year of speculation and hype surrounding the product, though whether it significantly differs from a wave of similar up-and-coming products still remains unclear (see NeoPath Nabs $12M).

The product, NeoPath File Director, is a LAN-based appliance that virtualizes file-based data storage. What that means, says Bob Nusbaum, director of product management, is that rather than incorporating its own file system, File Director acts as kind of superdirectory that pools all the information from multiple directories, then manages access to files residing on multiple storage devices, including NAS and DAS.

At the same time, Nusbaum says File Director retains full awareness of the individual backend storage associated with each directory, so users can add or subtract storage easily from one system to another. "File Director sits on the LAN logically between clients and storage," he says. "It then presents virtual shares [of storage] to clients."

Enterprises can use File Director to increase and adjust shared storage capacity more easily than with traditional NAS devices, which typically operate in isolation from each other and don't scale well, according to Nusbaum.NeoPath's File Director includes off-the-shelf server hardware from Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) and its own proprietary software. The company brands the product itself and says it will source hardware from additional vendors in the future.

The product, however, must contend with several others that similarly address network file-sharing limitations. Among those who already have products on the market: Acopia Networks Inc., NuView Inc., and Rainfinity.

The closest competitor to NeoPath appears to be Acopia, another young startup whose switching appliance virtualizes existing file systems and pools storage (see Acopia Aces $25M). NeoPath execs would not compare the two companies' approaches directly, saying they were not familiar enough with the Acopia product.

"What differentiates NeoPath is the simplicity of virtualization with integrated data movement," says Rajeev Chawla, founder and CEO of NeoPath. "We allow you to migrate files transparently while a read/write is happening."

To avoid having a single point of failure, NeoPath recommends deploying two File Directors together, one of which operates in active standby mode. Active-active configuration and multiple-node clustering of File Directors will be added in the future, the vendor says.Currently, NeoPath claims "close to ten" beta customers for File Director, with general availability immediately.

A clustered configuration of two devices lists for $49,995, while a single unit lists for $29,995.

Brett Mendel, Senior Analyst, Byte and Switch Insider

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