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FalconStor FreeStor gets juiced up with analytics

The FreeStor Analytics upgrade integrates code licensed from Cumulus Logic to aid in capacity planning, service-level management and storage health monitoring.

FalconStor Software on Tuesday added predictive analytics to its FreeStor virtualization and data protection software, giving FreeStor the ability to monitor the health of heterogeneous storage.

The FalconStor FreeStor Analytics update integrates code from startup Cumulus Logic through an exclusive license distribution and co-development deal.

FreeStor virtualizes networked storage and presents it as a shared pool. It provides unified data services across physical and virtual storage running on multiple storage arrays or subsystems.

Low-latency analytics inside data path

FalconStor FreeStor Analytics adds an intelligent abstraction layer that sits in the data path between application servers and storage. The analytics presents an aggregate picture of availability and capacity across all storage.

The Cumulus code pulls information from FreeStor storage servers, which gather data from storage arrays. Customer analytical data is maintained in a FreeStor database and exposed via a REST-based API.

Marc Staimer, senior analyst at Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore., said FalconStor's focus on analytics helps with performance tuning and other aspects of storage performance.

"FreeStor Analytics solves a real problem: making sure your storage performance, from end to end, matches what you think it is from end to end," Staimer said. "It's a validation that what you think you have really is what you have."

Most array vendors have good analytics for their individual systems, but customers lack quality tools to show end-to-end performance across arrays from multiple vendors, or different platforms from the same vendor, said Tim Sheets, FalconStor's vice president of global marketing and enablement.

"As enterprises move to adopt a software-defined storage approach, it means they have to move across silos of multiple arrays and multiple sites," he said. "As people try to optimize their workloads, we peel back the layers of the onion to expose what's happening, from end to end, with the storage. We let you drill into the infrastructure and make intelligent decisions on it."

Sheets said FreeStor is "very predictive on latency," adding from 120 to 150 microseconds.

Cloud, hyperscale customers sign up for FalconStor FreeStor

Pricing for FreeStor is $350 per terabyte of storage, including data services and maintenance. Cloud services providers and hyperscale data centers are FalconStor's main target customers. Since launching FreeStor in May 2015, FalconStor claimed to have signed more than 170 enterprise customers, totaling more than 11 PB under management.

It also has OEM agreements to integrate FreeStor in X-IO Technologies Iglu SAN array and Kaminario K2 all-flash arrays.

Sheets said the goal is to augment the analytical capabilities of legacy storage arrays.

"In most cases, we're not replacing an EMC, Hitachi or IBM [storage]," he said. "We're giving customers a way to keep their storage hardware in place, but they may not need to use all the hardware licenses anymore."

The FreeStor iteration marks a continual evolution of FalconStor, which has endured a long revenue slide and several CEO changes. Current CEO Gary Quinn came aboard in 2009, and oversaw wholesale rewriting of FalconStor software.

"FalconStor went through a transition as a company and really had to rewrite their software from scratch," Staimer said. "Their software is much more stable, solid and robust than it was several years ago. I give them credit for that. It was a tough decision to make."

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