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Incipient on Wednesday will unveil the fruits of five years of labor and $79 million in venture funding: a storage virtualization platform that the company says is the first to be completely embedded on an industry-standard director-class intelligent Fibre Channel switch.
Incipient said its Network Storage Platform (iNSP) software suite has completed beta testing and will be generally available this fall. The split-path virtualization software requires no additional hardware or software to operate, which Incipient senior marketing vice president Rob Infantino says makes the company's offering unique from others on the market, including those from EMC, IBM, HDS, StoreAge, FalconStor, DataCore, Fujitsu and Cloverleaf.
Infantino said Incipient is also the first to develop split-path storage virtualization software "from the ground up" specifically for intelligent switches, for better scalability and stability. The company will demonstrate iNSP at this week's Storage Decisions Conference in New York beginning on Wednesday.
The initial platform supported by iNSP is the Cisco MDS 9000 Storage Services Module (SSM). Infantino said the company will wait to see what platform emerges from the Brocade-McData merger before releasing a version for that platform.
iNSP inserts an abstraction layer between heterogeneous storage and hosts to implement network-based storage virtualization with advanced storage services such as data migration, volume management and copy services. By treating different classes of storage as virtualized pools of capacity, iNSP "removes the burden of directly managing the relationship between applications and storage," the company says.
The product is aimed at companies with 80-100 TB of storage and up for consolidation, storage delivery and cost savings, Infantino says. iNSP supports arrays from the likes of EMC, HP, HDS and IBM.
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO, said Incipient may be late for the virtualization hype but just in time for the "real market for network- and fabric-based applications to support data migration and other must-have functionality."
Says Schulz: "The good news with Incipient finally appearing in the market with a product is that customers have another purpose-built software solution that runs on purpose-built switch-based application blades like those from Brocade and Cisco to compete with other software from vendors, including Brocade, Fujitsu, EMC and StorAge."
The company must still get qualified on other platforms, including Brocade, and sign up VARs, integrators and OEM partners, said Schulz. "Given the close apples-to-applies comparison between what Incipient has and EMC Invista, I'm sure there will be some interesting jousting between those organizations in the weeks and months to come," he said.
Indeed, Infantino said one point that differentiates Incipient from EMC is that iNSP stores metadata on arrays, eliminating a potential single point of failure, while Invista uses storage attached to the clustered control processors. "Customers love this approach," Infantino says.
Schulz said the real issue for end users to consider is "which approach and solution aligns best with your environment's existing technology and your operational plans."
Infantino said data mobility is the "number one pain point" of storage users, which iNSP addresses at a speed of greater than 2 GB/sec without application outage.
Pricing for the Incipient Network Storage Platform (iNSP) starts at $137,500 for each Cisco SSM blade in use, or $275,000 for the recommended two-node configuration, including data migration and volume manager. Snapshot services cost $45,000 per node.