Vikings Vow to Vie With Veritas

Sweden's Northern Parklife promises its SRM tools will give Veritas a run for its money

August 23, 2003

4 Min Read
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Like its Viking ancestors, Swedish storage software company Northern Parklife Inc. is taking on an adversary much larger and mightier than itself: It claims it has two new storage resource management (SRM) products coming that should give storage software giant Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) a run for its money -- but only customers that have just Windows servers in their shops will give the Swedes the time of day.

This fall, Northern Parklife is planning to ship the last two modules in its five-piece SRM Storage Suite for Windows, which it launched in April (see Northern Ships Quota Server 2003). With the launch of its Storage Charge Back and Storage Assistant software modules, the company says it will add invoice capabilities and more automation to its SRM offering. The new additions will let it take on the StorageCentral products Veritas acquired when it bought Precise Software, the company insists (see Veritas Picks Up Precise).

"We're not scared of Veritas," says Thomas Vernersson, co-founder and president of Northern Parklife. "I think that they should be on their toes to make sure that development of the Precise products keep up, and that they maintain the level of innovation... The only development we've seen in that product over the past couple of months has been the price increase."

Northern Parklife expects to have the most leverage with customers on pricing. While Veritas charges $1,400 per Tbyte for the standard edition of its newly rebranded StorageCentral software, the Stockholm-based company's modules go for between $495 and $995 per server, regardless of the amount of storage. For a full five-piece set of the modules, the company charges $3,200 per server.

Carl Dvorak, a systems administrator at HK Systems, a New Berlin, Wisc.-based producer of software for automated handling tools such as cranes and conveyor systems, says that price played a big part in his company's decision to choose Northern Parklife."From a cost standpoint, there's no comparison between Northern Parklife and Veritas," he says. "Northern is bang for the buck. That's very important... We were looking at thousands of dollars for [Veritas], and hundreds of dollars for Northern."

HK Systems, which has about 900 employees and a little more than 120 Windows servers, is using Northern Parklife's existing modules, and Dvorak says he's eagerly looking forward to the release of the next two modules.

But of course, Veritas and a long list of other large companies that compete in the SRM space have some advantages over the Swedes. Northern Parklife's new SRM offering will also have to compete with products including Computer Associates International Inc. (CA)'s (NYSE: CA) BrightStor SRM and EMC Corp.'s (NYSE: EMC) ControlCenter and its StorScape products from its acquisition of Astrum Software in April (see EMC Sucks Up Astrum).

Besides name recognition, these industry giants have the advantage of addressing a larger market beyond Windows. But Dennis Martin, an analyst with the Evaluator Group, says it could play to the Swedish company's advantage that it's so focused. "They know their space," he says. "They're not trying to take over the world."

Vernersson insists that Northern Parklife is doing very well for itself. The company, which is privately held (and which won't reveal how much funding it's received to date), already has more than 22,000 customers for its existing system administration products. Most of those customers, according to Vernersson, buy Northern Parklife products through channel partners such as Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA).Northern Parklife's new Storage Charge Back module allows companies to set invoicing policies and to charge users for the amount of storage they use. Combined with the Quota Server, this module can, for instance, charge users for any disk space they use beyond their quotas. Meanwhile, Storage Assistant helps administrators automate various time-consuming tasks, such as archiving files over a certain age or of a certain type, or checking defragmentation levels.

Already available in the suite are Quota Server 2003, which allows administrators to set quotas for disk space; Storage Reporter, which identifies storage usage patterns, unwanted data, and wasted space, locates duplicate and old files, and recovers storage costs; and Storage Portal, which lets users view their storage use and provides tools to manage their allotted storage space and content.

Eugénie Larson, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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