Startup takes a new tack for cached storage

A storage appliance startup has a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it says it can make your WAN disappear.

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Tacit Networks Inc. wants to perform a magic trick but, unlike magician David Copperfield, the company isn't targeting a landmark or land mass. Tacit wants to show you how to make a wide area network disappear.

The company, based in Somerset, N.J., said that by using its Storage Caching Appliances, large enterprises can access stored data at local area network (LAN) speeds over WANs, eliminating the latency involved with transferring files over distances and effectively making the lamentation over WAN lag vanish.

Tacit is positioning its caching appliances as a way to consolidate storage assets into one centrally managed data center, an approach that company CEO Tim Williams said makes managing backups, storage procurement and provisioning, status monitoring, and disaster recovery easier on users.

Tacit developed its own patented storage over IP protocol called the Storage Caching/Internet Protocol (SC/IP). SC/IP is a distributed, fault-tolerant protocol designed to tackle high-latency environments, the company said.

Williams said it doesn't really matter to the end user where their files are physically stored.

Brad Nisbet, senior research analyst for International Data Corp.'s storage systems group, said that Tacit's performance gains come from "file-differencing" and from enhanced compression techniques.

File-differencing ensures that only changed data is sent over the WAN, not the entire file. This technique greatly improves read/write performance, Nisbet said.

Nisbet said this feature is most valuable when very large files are involved.

However, Nisbet did point out a drawback to Tacit's marketing plan. The company is targeting industries like medical imaging and geological sciences, which deal with large files -- but rarely change these files.

"Many of the vertical target markets they listed … deal with large files that are never modified, which reduces, if not negates, the value of their 'file-differencing' technique," he said.

But don't count the technology out. Despite a sagging caching market, Tacit's appliances still have a place in the data center. "The problem that Tacit is tackling is not lack of bandwidth, it's latency due to distances over the WAN. Regardless of whether or not the storage is consolidated, Tacit's technology can help," Nisbet said.

Cached data stored on Tacit's appliances is live, writable and sharable with other caching devices located in authorized remote locations, and the systems are interoperable with existing storage, network and hardware infrastructure, Williams said.

The Storage Cache appears to be a network-attached storage (NAS) device, providing access to shared files using standard file-sharing protocols like CIFS and NFS.

On the business side of things, Tacit has bagged $7.3 million in its first round of funding. RRE Ventures, Canaan Partners and Silicon Alley Seed Investors all anted up to fund the round.

Tacit's Storage Caching Appliances are available now. Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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