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FineGround has taken its Web application delivery prowess to the storage space. The company began offering a new wide area file services (WAFS) system Monday that allows users to share and store files from one box in a data center.

WAFS is an emerging field in the storage sector that lets users access a remote data center as though it were local. The technology enables corporations with scattered branch offices to manage data backups through one system. Such access centralization is important at a time when enterprise workers grow more mobile by the day.

FineGround hopes the Velocity-FS will be the system of choice for customers going forward. A combination of hardware and software, Velocity-FS uses a single box to manage e-mails, PDFs or media files from remote offices within a data center.

It installs in front of data center storage and file systems to boost file service traffic for the wide area network (WAN) while preserving security, rights management and access control. The device supports all CIFS storage and also implements support for the Microsoft Distributed File System.

This is different from other WAFS products on the market, which require two or more boxes at remote branches to get the job done, said FineGround Vice President Jay Mellman.

The executive argued that the one-box approach renders file access over the WAN free of network latency, allowing information to travel faster across the network. One box also means less time and fewer employees to manage the system, saving companies cash.

FineGround is entering a market populated by Cisco Systems, which added WAFS appliances when it acquired Actona Technologies last year, Tacit Networks and Riverbed Technology.

Typically, a two-box solution from one of those vendors uses a proprietary protocol to serve a request. Velocity-FS uses HTTP to ferry the data, transforms the data into CIFS storage and manages the conversation with the file server across the LAN.

“We’re taking the chatty conversation, burying it in the fastest part of the infrastructure and taking the slow part, which is what gets communicated over the WAN, and minimizing that as much as possible,” Mellman said.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst William Hurley said that while there are some architectural and functional benefits from using a two-device solution, the FineGround solution simplifies not just the management of the box, but also how expediently the platform can be deployed and used.

The Campbell, Calif., concern has definitely upped the ante by eliminating questions of responsibility around its management, Hurley added.

“The two-box approach can be a powerful solution, but the deployment condition gets challenging because you have to go visit the remote location,” Hurley said. “You open the door to different political battles within an organization. Who is responsible for the box? Is it the network guy, the storage guy, or the security guy? Those problems can be worked through, but they complicate the deployment.”

Velocity-FS is in pilot testing now. PMC-Sierra and Cascade Manufacturing are already running Velocity-FS in projects to enhance storage utilization.

Mellman said file access times in PMC-Sierra’s offices in California and British Columbia decreased from 80 seconds to 15 seconds with the Velocity-FS appliance.

Velocity-FS will be generally available for $20,000 per box at the end of the second quarter. The machine runs on all major storage and file systems.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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