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Tacit to acquire laptop backup provider

WAFS startup Tacit is expected to acquire laptop backup company Mobiliti, enabling centralized backup of laptop devices.

Wide area file services (WAFS) startup, Tacit Networks Inc. is expected to announce next week that it will acquire laptop backup software company, Mobiliti Inc., according to industry sources familiar with the company's plans.

Mobiliti, based down the road from Tacit in New Jersey, makes software dubbed Network/Unplugged that allows mobile workers to keep their laptop data synchronized and backed up to their LAN, much the same way as Tacit's WAFS technology keeps branch office files stored centrally.

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"Tacit, if it is buying this company, is diversifying by providing laptop backup, which many remote offices with five or six people are not doing -- it's another service they can add on to their core WAFS product that keeps remote workers in sync with corporate data," said Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). He was unaware of the deal.

"Laptops are ubiquitous and important pieces of the overall IT infrastructure," according to Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at ESG, in a recent article on "Data protection can be just as important for mobile devices as it is for back-end systems. To adequately protect the potentially massive amounts of data stored on these devices, enterprises must acknowledge the importance -- and risks -- of mobile computing tools and start building processes to protect their data."

Mobiliti's Network/Unplugged's file synchronization technology is able to determine which files were changed and then synchronizes only those files. For example, if a user with a 6 MB file makes changes in 2KB worth of data, then only 2KB worth of data is sent over the network, keeping backup traffic and bandwidth costs to a minimum. The product has two components, client software and server synchronization software.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but Tacit has some funds to play with. The company's been sitting on a $7.5 million investment from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. since May 2005.

"They are leveraging assets correctly, instead of hiring 200 people or sitting on a pot of cash forever, they are taking some risks and growing," Babineau said.

Tacit is also expected to release its first WAN optimization-enabled WAFS device in the February/March time frame. While WAFS products have focused on CIFS acceleration to speed up remote data delivery, WAN optimization devices tweak network protocols.

According to Joe Skorupa, analyst at Gartner Inc., firms centralizing servers need "a new kind of product, the branch office box (a hybrid of server and WAN optimization controller), for key server-based and network services."

Cisco Systems Inc., Riverbed Technology Inc., DiskSites Inc., Expand Networks Inc., Juniper Networks Inc. and others are all scrambling for a slice of this pie, which Gartner pegs at a $1.19 billion market in 2006.

Tacit declined to comment for this story.


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