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HDS, Archivas team on fixed-content archiving

HDS announces an OEM deal with Archivas to develop a product that will compete with EMC and NetApp in the fixed-content archiving market.

Hitachi Data Systems Inc. (HDS) announced Monday its much anticipated OEM deal with Archivas Inc. to develop a product that will compete with EMC's Centera and Network Appliance Inc.'s (NetApp) SnapLock in the fixed-content archiving market.

The jointly developed product, not available until midyear at the earliest, will run on existing HDS hardware starting at the low end and will eventually be available on the high-end arrays, the company said.

"We're not burdening customers with yet another island of storage that requires different software tools and management interfaces," said Brian Householder, vice president of business development at HDS, taking a shot at EMC. "First-generation products like EMC's Centera have limited scalability and performance issues … We have spent a lot of time figuring out the right technology for long-term archiving."

He's right about the timing. EMC introduced Centera at least three years ago and has gained significant first-mover advantage, analysts say. HDS spent a lot of time looking for technology that had "protected patents," a scalable architecture and one that would create as few management headaches for users as possible, according to John McArthur, group vice president and general manager at IDC. "EMC made a time-to-market decision. They put an appliance out there rather than make it work within a common management framework … it [Centera] was simpler to rollout," he said.

Nonetheless, EMC has several thousand customers using its product today. "Some customers will put out the brush fire but miss the forest fire," noted McArthur. "Customers need to think about how to get the data off an archive when the technology is no longer any good and onto new stuff without too much pain."

HDS's product, when it eventually ships, will use the company's existing software, like TrueCopy for remote replication, to protect the archive at a remote site, and its virtualization capabilities to archive data on third-party storage behind the HDS controller.

Tony Asaro, senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group adds that the Archivas product enables more granular scalability than Centera. Users can start with a three-node system and then add a fourth, fifth, sixth node and so on, versus Centera, which scales only in groups of four nodes. Also with Centera, although a new cluster logically looks like it's part of a single system, the data is not distributed across all disks, whereas with Archivas data, it is distributed across all drives for better performance, Asaro said.

Archivas also announced that it is has completed a third round of financing of $12 million, bringing the company's total funding raised to date to $28 million. The OEM deal and financing provoked a shakeup at the company leading to some key departures, including Asim Zaheer, vice president of marketing and Neil Colstad, vice president of business development.

"I hired a new senior executive and there was some overlap, and a couple of people have left," said Gary Voight, CEO of Archivas. Sources close to the company say there were some differences of opinion over strategy. Either way, it looks like Archivas' software is on solid ground for now.

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