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While the storage market may have evolved to a state of relative maturity, device and equipment makers still have an appetite for new niche technologies that address specific pain points, such as migration and compatibility issues.
According to Paragon Software, that demand has become all the more evident at a time when more businesses are trying to bridge the compatibility chasm between physical and virtual environments, while at the same time trying to wring more life out of their legacy systems.
"The data storage, backup and recovery sector is a mature market with long-time players," said Tom Fedro, president of Paragon Software. "We focus on developing technology that fills gaps in the market. Often our software addresses a need that is at the early stages of permeating systems."
So amid a crowded and highly competitive market, Paragon Software operates through two core channels: OEMs and ODMs (or original device makers), and VARs, as well as a relatively small direct-to-consumer business through its website. In addition to its flagship storage management division, Paragon has opened up a mobility division focusing on productivity applications for handheld devices.
One of the core offerings in Paragon's portfolio is a "partition alignment" technology that aims to overcome the misalignment that can occur between physical and virtual disk volumes and in the migration to Advance Format drives, SSDs and virtual machines.
Additionally, Paragon seeks to help administrators overcome incompatibility issues with its Universal File System Drivers (UFSD), providing high-performance connectivity across various platforms to deliver access to resources on file systems for which common operating systems do not offer native support. Paragon's UFSD technologies offer full (e.g., read, write and delete) access to file systems such as NTFS and FAT through Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and others.
The way Fedro explains it, it's not that equipment and device makers aren't interested in high-level storage performance and the attendant compatibility issues, but rather that those concerns are generally outside of their core focus. And that's where Paragon makes its play.
"More often than not, PC and PC peripheral OEMs--even hard disk drive manufacturers themselves--are focused on issues other than optimizing storage performance for compatibility regardless of the hardware platform, file system or operating system involved," he said. "OEMs need our technologies to reach new markets. Paragon's technology fills gaps in the OEMs' technology."
Similarly, Paragon provides for fluidity between Windows servers and desktops and other types of hardware and virtualization platforms through its Adaptive Restore product and physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical migration technologies.
The firm's imaging technology targets backup, recovery and deployment issues. Recently, Paragon has seen a surge in interest in its physical-to-virtual, or P2V, copy technology as more firms are warming to the idea of instant system recovery through virtualization. Paragon's P2V copy technology pairs with an off-site backup to ensure that administrators will always be able to access a recent copy of critical systems either locally or through cloud services.
"Utilizing this technology, administrators can bring a system back online within a few minutes of being notified of a failure, significantly decreasing downtime and helping meet tight SLAs," Fedro said.
While Paragon has seen a surge in its business catering to the SMB market in recent years, it is increasingly looking to address the challenges faced in larger, enterprise-scale deployments.
"Many of the SMB software products we offer have actually turned out to scale very well to the enterprise," Fedro said.
Founded in 1994 with its U.S. headquarters in Irvine, Calif., Paragon has offices in Germany, Japan, Russia and Poland. Paragon boasts a reach of more than 1 million systems, with a client portfolio that includes Dell, Acer, Seagate, Western Digital among others.
Looking ahead, Paragon is planning to bring to market additional products in the areas of partition alignment, virtualization and remote management. On the heels of the recent release of PAT ESX, technology for remotely managed partition alignment for virtual machines on the VMware, Microsoft and Oracle platforms, Paragon is in the midst of an overhaul of its remote management technology, with new releases projected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2012.