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Storage management software

Gold: Abrevity FileData Classifier 2.7
Data classification has been called the brains of information lifecycle management. Without it, any kind of tiered storage strategy isn't very practical. Abrevity Inc., a little-known company in Cupertino, CA, is making considerable strides in this market. Its FileData Classifier software installs on any Windows PC, notebook or server (2000, 2003 or XP), and scans any CIFS or NFS storage system, extracting granular meta data that's used to tag files. It uses a simple drag-and-drop feature, much like an Apple iTunes menu, to drag one or more files to the classification you want, such as Tier-One: Secure. Abrevity's applications truly stand out, according to our judges, when it comes to searching for those files. Abrevity wrote its own database, dubbed SLICEbase, instead of using an existing relational database, to provide significantly faster indexing and search performance. "Classification is built around an incredibly fast, innovative database ... the performance is outstanding," says one judge.

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With Abrevity FileData Classifier, you can see a graphic report of a query, such as "Show me all security-related file types older than one year."

Version 2.7 of the product, released in the fall, adds some important new features. Multitier file tracking creates file stubs (or shortcuts that point to master files) for files migrated multiple times across storage tiers and automatically updates links to new file locations. Directory structures and access-control lists are maintained as files move to allow complete, fast file restores. An optional deduplication feature discovers duplicate files, globally or within search queries, and allows manual or automated master file selection with file stubbing.

One judge comments, "It's not whether you can solve a problem with a solution. It's whether you can solve it with a solution that's simple, elegant and affordable." FileData Classifier stands out in this category and is a clear winner for this reason.

Silver: EMC Infoscape
Infoscape is EMC Corp.'s entry in the data classification competition, but the company is targeting a different segment of the market--large enterprises--with its product.

Infoscape is the first new product to be released as the result of EMC's acquisitions of Documentum Inc., Legato Systems Inc. and Smarts Management Arts Inc. (Smarts). Infoscape uses content/meta data analysis and repository management functions from Documentum, discovery features from Smarts and data movement technology from Legato. All of those moving parts mesh with new capabilities that let users classify data based on importance, move it to a storage tier according to predetermined policies and manage its retention for compliance.

EMC Infoscape can classify data based on its importance, move it to the appropriate tier of storage according to predetermined policies and manage its retention for compliance purposes.

Infoscape is pricey: $125,000 for the first 10TB of data to be classified and $9,000 per terabyte after that. And the product is limited to what it can classify today--only unstructured data, such as Word and PowerPoint files, accessible via CIFS or on EMC's Celerra NAS devices. For Infoscape to gain a wide user base, EMC will need to lower its hefty price. One judge comments: "If the fine [for not finding data] is $100,000, but it costs $200,000 to fix the problem, I'll live with the fine."

Bronze: Onaro SANscreen Replication Assurance
A previous winner, Onaro Inc. continues to build software that genuinely solves users' problems. SANscreen Replication Assurance focuses on one thing, and does it extremely well. It provides a global inventory of all replication devices, the type of replication between devices and whether replication tasks are performed according to service-level agreements. If a replication job is disrupted, SAN- screen Replication Assurance provides root-cause analysis and reports actions to address the issue.

Onaro's SANscreen Replication Assurance can find out which devices are replicating to which arrays and how those jobs are performing.

It's the first product of its kind, according to our judges, who have faith in its ability to perform as advertised given the company's previous success. With disaster recovery a standard requisite for large data centers, this product adds some quality assurance to this vital process--assurance that's been missing until now.

This was first published in February 2007

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