NeoPath Enhances File Management

File management appliance has improved performance, is now resold by SANZ

August 9, 2005

2 Min Read
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NeoPath Networks is set to unveil a new version of its file management appliance and a resale arrangement with storage integrator SANZ (OTC: SANZ).

The move is a swipe at growing competition in the small but robust niche NeoPath occupies. The first upgrade to the vendor's gear since the product's initial launch in December 2004, it is also the first reseller agreement NeoPath has struck (see NeoPath Unveils File Director).

NeoPath claims better performance and functionality for its new FD-220 File Director compared with its first release. But the value prop is still the same: NeoPath's gear manages files stored across different NAS systems as one big pool, using virtual namespace and load balancing. This allows customers to make the best use of NAS filers to consolidate storage.

NeoPath competes with the likes of Acopia Networks Inc., NuView Inc., and Rainfinity. But its FD-220 is differentiated from the competition, the vendor claims, by its price and performance.

It's tough to get exact reports here, a key indicator that a shakeout may be coming. "All four suppliers of network file management machines have done a really good job of helping customers manage their files," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy. He says NeoPath's closest competitor is Acopia, since the two are in-band appliances, whereas NuView offers software and Rainfinity's solution is a hybrid.One thing NeoPath can't claim is the ability to pool filers across multiple sites, something Acopia recently announced (see Acopia Reaches Out). Nevertheless, NeoPath says this is in the pipeline.

As customer testimonials play out, the record will start to help vendors differentiate themselves a bit better. According to Taneja, subtle differences in performance related to design features will determine products' futures. "No customer will allow an in-band device to become a choking point," he says.

Though NeoPath claims to have upped its performance, it's tough to tell how it compares against competitors in these early days. SANZ CTO George Crump says his company picked NeoPath mainly because of its price. He acknowledges testing Acopia and NuView and won't rule those out, but, given similar features, he says cost was a dealmaker in SANZ's choice.

NeoPath sells the FD-220 for $40,000 for a single-node system, and $70,000 for a two-node clustered pair.

One thing: The arrangement with SANZ should help NeoPath build out its customer base. Right now, the vendor claims to have gotten 15 customers in six months of selling its wares.Acopia won't disclose its customer tally, but a spokesman says the vendor just finished a "record Q2," adding at least five new customers, including Time Inc., Archive Systems Inc., Raytheon Co., and "a leading pharmaceutical company and a large semiconductor company." In all, Acopia claims to have expanded its installed base by 40 percent.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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