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By definition, unstructured data comes in many forms. Be it spreadsheets, documents, images or other files, the proliferation of information that does not adhere to a set data model can pose a significant challenge for enterprises on the storage front.
AutoVirt, a Nashua, N.H.-based startup, thinks it has the answer with an approach it describes as file virtualization. AutoVirt provides a software platform administrators can deploy to virtualize access to files, providing low-cost data migration while trimming the costs of physical storage.
"Most companies lack the ability to discern the value of their file data and have no easy or effective means of moving or managing it," said Josh Klein, AutoVirt's president and CEO. "This means that most companies address file data growth by continually purchasing new storage."
"This is an extremely inefficient and expensive approach and one that AutoVirt addresses by providing data insight and seamless data mobility," Klein added.
Four-year-old AutoVirt positions itself as the next iteration of a broad, secular shift in the computing industry toward virtualization. In response to the challenge of poor disk utilization, RAID evolved as an early foray into the area of storage virtualization, for example. Then, in the server space, virtualization addressed the challenge of underused computing assets, improving efficiencies while generating cost savings in areas such as manpower, real-estate and power consumption.
And so it is that AutoVirt approaches the market with a file (or filesytem) virtualization solution, aimed at automating the manual, labor-intensive, error-prone processes of managing and migrating unstructured data.
"Virtualization is always seen as the solution that solves the problem of poorly utilized assets," Klein said.
AutoVirt's file virtualization system hinges on a global namespace, an abstract, unifying framework that brings together all of an enterprise's disparate files and information assets. In a nutshell, AutoVirt creates a global namespace by virtualizing access to a firm's Windows file servers and NAS devices. At that point, it doesn't matter where a file is physically stored--the policy-based global namespace automatically responds to client requests, retrieving files from various storage locations and, in the process, pursues a cost-effective, if contrarian, approach to the problem of storage sprawl.
But that message doesn't always immediately resonate with prospective customers. While most businesses face challenges in dealing with unstructured data, many IT buyers remain wedded to conventional management tactics, and they aren't necessarily eager to create a new line item, such as a global namespace.
"A company might have the budget to purchase a new storage array this year, but no budget for AutoVirt--which pays for itself by reducing storage purchases immediately," Klein said. "But what these companies neglect to examine are the indirect expenses that they have to make as a result of their archaic management practices, including wasted resources."
According to IDC analyst Laura DuBois, harmonizing disparate storage platforms is a central pillar of the broader initiative under way in many IT shops to cut data center costs.
"The challenge of quickly and efficiently migrating data from one storage platform to another is the most common hurdle to a firm's objective to consolidate, optimize and lower data center costs," DuBois said in a statement.
Under the AutoVirt branding, the company offers a portfolio of three signature products, headed by the full AutoManage platform. Each is sold exclusively through its channel partners. Just last month, AutoVirt announced the next evolution of its channel network, unveiling a two-tier premium and basic partner program for OEMs, VARs and SIs.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here