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FalconStor acquires cloud-based analytics for FreeStor

FalconStor is preparing to add predictive analytics monitoring to its FreeStor storage virtualization software, which the vendor compares to Nimble Insight and Pure1 cloud-based analytics.

FalconStor signed a licensing and co-development agreement with Cumulus Logic that gives FalconStor exclusive use of Cumulus Logic analytics code.

Cumulus Logic is still in stealth, but has been developing an analytics engine that allows centralized reporting across heterogeneous storage systems. It will collect data from storage and applications, present historic and real-time reports and help maintain management policies for storage and servers. It will present data in web-based dashboards that can also be accessed through mobile devices.

The analytics will be built into FreeStor as part of the base product for no extra charge, FalconStor CEO Gary Quinn said.

“I think customers will buy FreeStor just for the analytics,” Quinn said. “They will want the pure ability to learn more about the environment and make decisions.”

FalconStor expects the analytics to be available around March or April of 2016.

FreeStor’s management server already provides configuration information and does monitoring and reporting. The Cumulus intelligence will add predictive analytics and allow it all to run in an Amazon cloud instance. Quinn said the new information will help customers plan for capacity, meet SLAs and predict the health of their storage systems. He expects service provider customers to use it in the cloud while large enterprises may prefer to keep the repository on-premise.

“Analytics have been around a long time, but a favorite reason to buy Nimble and Pure is the nice information you receive about your array,” Quinn said. “FreeStor is dedicated to a heterogeneous environment, and we think that [analytics] capability needs to go horizontal across the industry.”

The Cumulus code will pull all information from FreeStor Storage servers, which uses REST APIs to gather data from storage arrays and servers. “We collect a tremendous amount of information,” Quinn said. “We are now applying a smart rules engine to analyze all that data we’re receiving. We will present that in a simple Web browser or mobile application. You can take actions based on whether you’re achieving your SLAs, running out of capacity or having performance issues.”

Unlike Nimble and Pure, FalconStor will not collect customer information in its own cloud. “Nimble and Pure customers can log in and gain insight into how other customers are doing,” Quinn said. “We could do that, but that’s not our first iteration.”

Quinn said the analytics will make FreeStor more valuable to OEM partners. FalconStor has announced OEM deals with X-IO and Kaminario, and can bring its analytics to other vendors’ arrays. Quinn said the analytics are especially helpful with companies who want to make sure their flash storage is optimized for the best performance. FreeStor was developed in collaboration with flash array vendor Violin Memory.

“FreeStor Storage Server sits in the data path,” he said. “We see IOPS, latency and bottlenecks in the data path, and can even capture log information if you’re encountering hardware difficulties.”