An interesting tidbit from host-based replication, iSCSI SAN and boot-from-SAN vendor Double-Take Software Inc.’s quarterly earnings forecast press release this week:
Double-Take…has received unsolicited, non-binding, written conditional indications of interest to acquire the Company at prices above recent trading prices of its shares. The Company’s Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, is reviewing these indications of interest, and considering other possible strategic transactions. There can be no assurance that any transaction will occur, that any transaction involving a purchase of the Company that may occur would be at or above the prices stated in the indications of interest or as to the timing of any transactions that may occur. Double-Take does not expect to make further public comments regarding these matters unless and until it enters into a definitive agreement with respect to a transaction or determines that none will be pursued.
Meanwhile, the first calendar quarter of 2010 finished “weaker than expected” for Double-Take, which now expects first quarter revenue to be in the range of $18.8 million to $18.9 million, compared to its previous guidance of $20.0 million to $21.2 million. The new forecast is down from $22.8 million in revenue in the previous quarter and up a bit from last year’s $18.2 million. Double-Take will officially report earnings May 4.
The release quoted CEO Dean Goodermote saying “although we are evaluating expressions of interest in the company, we continue to plan for a strong independent future.”
Symantec announced at its Symantec Vision show today in Las Vegas that it will add new support for more third-party disk arrays under its Veritas Thin Reclamation API, part of its Thin Optimization features for Storage Foundation.
Three array partners, 3PAR, IBM and HDS, had already integrated with the API prior to this announcement. This week, Symantec is announcing support for EMC’s Clariion (Symmetrix to follow by the end of the year), HP’s XP24000 (EVA to be determined), as well as arrays from Fujitsu, NetApp and Compellent (the latter still to come later this month).
The API helps Veritas File System (VxFS), which underpins Storage Foundation, and storage arrays communicate which blocks have been deleted and can be freed up and put back into the storage pool. Symantec’s Thin Optimization can also help users perform “thin migrations” from a thick-provisioned to a thin-provisioned array.
Some of the array vendors offer similar features natively — HDS, for example, offers what it calls Zero Page Reclaim, and Compellent offers Thin Import. Symantec claims its approach is more efficient than these native tools. “The reality is that typically unused storage is delted or overwritten, but not written over with all zeroes,” said vice president of product management Josh Kahn. “That makes things like zero-page reclaim less efficient.”
Kahn said Symantec is testing the Thin Reclamation API to get some statistics on the amount of additional capacity users can reclaim with it, but doesn’t yet have those specific numbers.
“The big advantage to this is migrating data from thick to thin, and it’s a pretty efficient tool for heterogeneous environments,” said Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Bob Laliberte. “Whether it’s efficient enough to use in tandem with a storage vendor is a question of whether you’re an existing Symantec shop.”
IBM published details of its forthcoming Easy Tier automated tiered storage feature for the DS8700 on its website Tuesday, and spilled another couple of beans on upcoming storage product announcements along the way:
New replication for DS8000, ProtecTIER
Also detailed on IBM’s website along with the Easy Tier announcement were some updates to other products in IBM’s storage portfolio, including new replication features for the DS8000 series and a new many-to-one replication feature for the TS 7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication virtual tape library (VTL) IBM acquired with Diligent in 2008.
New granularity has been added to IBM’s Global Mirror feature for DS8000 arrays to support application-by-application failover; previously the entire DS8000 system had to be failed over at once. A feature already added to the DS8100 and DS8300 called Remote Pair Flash Copy will also be added to the DS8700 with this announcement. According to an IBM spokesperson, “Remote Pair FlashCopy option provides the ability to copy data from a remote mirror and copy source volume and have it be immediately reflected on the remote mirror and copy target volume.”
This brings ProtecTIER into even closer competition with EMC / Data Domain’s data deduplication arrays, which has also been announcing new replication features, including support this week for one-to-many replication for its DD series arrays.
2 TB SATA, LTO-5 boost disk and tape system capacities
IBM, like competitor Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), will be launching new software features as it adds support for the LTO-5 format to its tape libraries; in IBM’s case, software it developed called the Long Term File System, which allows users to track data in tape archives, will be shipped as a no-charge standard feature on TS2250 and TS2350 LTO-5 tape drives. Pricing for the TS2250 drives, which will ship April 16, starts at $3622.The TS2350 will GA April 23 starting at $4825. IBM will also support LTO-5 drives within the TS3500 tape library April 16, and within the TS3100 and TS3200 libraries May 21.
Finally, 2 TB SATA drive support within IBM’s XIV array will become generally available April 22. Pricing was not available for the new XIV as of press time.
The online backup company formerly known as Data Deposit Box is branching out into new cloud-based IT services and relaunching under a new name, KineticD.
Data Deposit Box’s online backup and recovery service will now be known as KineticD Secure. A new service launched along with the new branding this week, KineticD Extend, is a hosted VPN service that allows users to remotely access data over a wide-area network (WAN). KineticD Extend is a part of the same software client users download to send data backups from a machine to the cloud. The machine being remotely accessed needs the client installed, but the access can be done using KineticD’s Web portal.
At first hosted VPN services and online backup might not appear to be related, but KineticD is tying the concepts together as one cloud data storage offering offering online data backup and access to files from anywhere. Files backed up to the KineticD service can also be accessed via the Web portal.
KineticD isn’t exactly in an empty market with this service — well-known competitors such as Citrix GoToMyPC and LogMeIn also provide similar remote access features.
That’s where KineticD and Data Deposit Box founder and CEO Jamie Brenzel says the company plans to compete with larger players on price, and target the SOHO / SMB market. KineticD will charge $2 per gigabyte per month for online storage, and won’t charge software licensing fees. The number of machines that can be backed up to the cloud service is unlimited.
On the online backup side, KineticD also isn’t alone in trying to expand its offerings to attract end users to its service; online backup storage service provider Dmailer is giving away its local backup software for free in an effort to entice customers to sign up for its Dmailer Online services, a move analysts say reflects the fierce competition in this emerging market.
KineticD won’t be making that kind of move, Brenzel said. “The storage market is very competitive, but it’s not about giving things away for free,” he said. “We’re balancing industrial strength solutions with ease of use, and in our market, ease of use trumps free.”
With the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference going on this week in Las Vegas, some storage vendors are polishing their wares for the media and entertainment space, including Atempo Inc. and FalconStor Software.
Atempo’s Digital Archive (ADA) version 3.1 adds updates designed to attract users in the media and entertainment space, a focus for the digital archiving and data backup vendor given its partnership with Apple Inc.
According to director of product marketing and management Marylise Tauzia, ADA 3.1 adds the ability to extract information file headers in MXF format, including time stamp information for video files. “MXF is becoming a standard file format like XML,” Tauzia said. A partnership with a company called OpenCube allows for metadata extraction from the MXF format. The new release also adds dedicated support of media and entertainment industry formats like DPX and MOV (associated with Apple’s QuickTime).
ADA users will also be able to perform partial restore of MXF and MOV files down to the millisecond, Tauzia said, rather than dragging an entire large video file back from the archive.
Finally, ADA 3.1 adds integration into Apple’s Final Cut Server and Final Cut Pro interfaces, so users can right click in the Final Cut Pro menu to restore an item (something akin to Windows Shell scripts available in other archiving platforms). Integration with Final Cut Server has been updated to support metadata export to ADA. In the past, such metadata had to remain on the Final Cut Server, meaning restores had to be performed through that Server. “Now users can restore through the ADA GUI if they prefer,” according to Tauzia. Final Cut Server also groups assets used to make a movie into productions, which previously had to be archived asset by asset — thanks to the new integration, productions can be archived whole.
Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Brian Babineau pointed out Atempo’s technology could be applied in other industries like oil and gas, “anyplace massive files.”
As a relatively small company, according to Babineau, Atempo “needs to pick [its] battles. Atempo has unique capabilities in media and entertainment, there isn’t a ton of competition in this space, and it allows Atempo to focus its resources.”
In another announcement today, FalconStor unveiled HyperFS for Media and Entertainment, a file system it says was designed for large sequential file access by many clients in multimedia environments. FalconStor previewed HyperFS as a cloud data storage product, but its release this week describes HyperFS as “designed for post-production and broadcasting.” It’s unclear at this point if this represents a repositioning of the product or just one facet of its marketing — stay tuned for more on that front.
*Update 4/13/10* A FalconStor spokesperson sent the following comment about HyperFS positioning overnight:
FalconStor is first focusing on the media and entertainment industry. They will look at how HyperFS may help other industries in the future that have massive amounts of data files.
FalconStor also announced a new OEM for HyperFS yesterday in the media and entertainment space, SeaChange International Inc., which will incorporate the file system into its Universal MediaLibrary product.
It had seemed gutsy of Nexsan to go against the grain by announcing it was filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in April 2008. IPOs were down that year due to fears of recession, even before the housing market collapsed.
Almost two years later, Nexsan announced it is postponing that IPO, citing market conditions:
The news comes two days after close peer Compellent…preannounced a disappointing first quarter, driving its stock down 26%. Nexsan was founded in 2000 and booked $62.7 million in sales for the 12 months ended 12/31/09.
Compellent said last Wednesday it missed its sales projection last quarter, and expects to report revenue of around $31.5 million to $32 million instead of its previous guidance of $35 million to $37 million.
Storage vendors were cautiously optimistic over signs of a spending uptick in late 2009, but at least one has stumbled out of the gate in 2010.
Compellent Wednesday evening said it missed its sales projection last quarter, and expects to report revenue of around $31.5 million to $32 million instead of its previous guidance of $35 million to $37 million. The new projection puts Compellent revenue down 12 percent to 13 percent over the fourth quarter of 2009, and up about 12 percent to 14 percent from the first quarter of 2009.
Compellent CEO Phil Soran blamed the shortfall on delays in some large orders and changes in the sales force, and said “We remain positive about the outlook for continued growth.”
But analysts and investors weren’t so forgiving. After several Wall Street firms downgraded its stock price, Compellent shares opened today at $13.75 – down from Wednesday’s closing price of $17.56 – and continued to fall this morning.
Analysts also believe Compellent’s problems were not typical of storage vendors last quarter. Wedbush Securities analyst Kaushik Roy did not downgrade Compellent, but pointed out Xyratex reported better results than expected, LSI raised its guidance for the month and EMC is expected to beat its previous forecast for last quarter. Roy wrote in a note to clients today that part of Compellent’s problems are caused by growing pains as it finds itself with greater challenges than when it went public in 2008.
“As the company grows, competitors such as EMC, NetApp and Dell are now increasingly taking notice of Compellent,” Roy wrote. “We believe that competitive pressures from these companies have increased as a result leading to some of the revenue shortfall.”
Roy added that EMC’s announcement of its FAST automated tiering software roadmap may be offsetting Compellent’s first-to-market advantage with its Data Progression tiering software. He also wrote that Compellent’s 100 percent reliance on the channel could also hurt it because channel partners are less motivated than direct sales people to close deals in time to meet sales targets.
Two weeks after Dell revealed plans to develop an object storage system, NetApp today disclosed its object storage strategy by acquiring privately held Canadian vendor Bycast.
Bycast’s StorageGrid software is used mostly in medical archiving products through OEM deals with Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Bycast added support for clustered NAS, security partitions, chargeback and virtual servers to its basic archiving features, and began marking StorageGRID as a building block for private and public clouds. It lets NetApp compete with EMC’s Atmos object storage system designed for internal clouds, as well as provide storage for the growing medical archiving market.
NetApp’s press release today cited Bycast’s value for collaborative projects, specifically in vertical markets such as healthcare, cloud service providers, digital media, and Web 2.0 companies.
“Bycast extends our unified storage strategy and enhances our solution for shared storage infrastructure by adding new capabilities for global data access and mobility,” Manish Goel, NetApp executive vice president of product operations, said in the release. “The addition of Bycast’s products enables NetApp to offer our enterprise customers and service provider partners a complementary solution that enables them to efficiently build and manage a very large-scale global repository of data central to many IT-as-a-service offerings.”
It’s unclear if StorageGrid capabilities will be built into NetApp’s core storage systems or will be sold as a separate product, but the reference to extending the vendor’s unified strategy seems to indicate some integration. It also remains to be seen if NetApp will continue Bycast’s OEM deals. IBM is a close NetApp OEM partner, but HP is one of NetApp’s biggest competitors.
NetApp isn’t saying how much it paid for Bycast, but says it was a cash transaction.
Check out our SearchStorage story for me on this acquisition.