NXPowerLite for File Servers uses the same file optimization technology that Neuxpower has included in its NXPowerLite Desktop Edition software, with advanced scheduling and other management features. Neuxpower claims its software is used by more than 1 million end users with customers including the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy; U.S. Department of Defense; British Ministry of Defence; and Canadian National Defence.
Switzerland-based balesio AG uses similar technology in its FILEminimizer Suite, although this technology is not as well known in the networked storage world as data deduplication or compression for primary storage sold by vendors such as EMC Corp., Exar/Hifn, NetApp, Ocarina Networks Inc., Permabit Technology Corp. and Storwize Inc.
The file optimization process used by Neuxpower and balesio employs a different reduction method than deduplication or compression. File optimization performs lossy reduction, so information taken out is not restored. Deduplication and the compression performed by Storwize or HIFN is lossless, meaning they use algorithms that allow the data to be reconstructed to their original forms.
"We remove file bloat," Power said. "Compression is about arranging the bits so they fit together. We're saying you probably don't need all those bits. We're making smart and informed choices about what bits you need and what bits you don't need, and we remove the bits you don't need."
Neuxpower requires no reader software or the rehydration of data that can slow down restores. It also works with compression and deduplication, so optimized files can be further reduced with the other technologies.
On the down side, file optimization is limited to office documents and JPEGs. It's also performed post-process, which impacts system performance. Power recommends customers run the optimization after hours or on weekends.
Power said Neuxpower runs on any Windows server or desktop, or any virtual machine (VM). It can reduce files on servers or desktops connected to a non-Windows NAS filer, although "there will be increased traffic between the machine with software and the storage" that could slow the process, he said.
Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said he expects more vendors to launch software based on the same type of file optimization. He said it will have its place for primary storage, just as deduplication and compression do.
"If I've got one object and I want to reduce it, then I apply classic compression technologies like Storwize or another form of compression," Taneja said. "If I have two of the same objects, I use deduplication or single instance storage to say 'These two are the same; even if the metadata is different, the files are the same.'"
He added: "Neuxpower is more on the compression side, but it's different than what other guys in the industry are doing now. For starters, it's not lossless. That means it's not applicable to certain types of applications like medical imaging, but for the large majority of images it will be fine. Probably more than 90% of the applications we use can benefit from lossy compression and still be fine."
A report by the FORCEnet international naval cooperative during its Trident Warrior 2007 war trials claimed Neuxpower software helped them reduce PowerPoint files by an average of 84%, Excel files by 76% and Word documents by 68%.
Marc Staimer, president at Beaverton, Ore.-based Dragon Slayer Consulting, said he's used NXPowerLite on high-resolution files without noticing any difference in quality from the original files. "They solve a problem that Storwize and Ocarina don't solve," he said. "They take a file and slice away all the garbage, and it can still be compressed and deduped afterwards."
NXPowerLite for File Servers costs $2,499 per server. Pricing with SAN and NAS is $6,954 to protect between 6 TB and 10 TB of data.