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History 2004: Will DataCenter Technologies Perform Like Countryman FilePool?

Will there be Belgian presence in CAS?

Will there be a Belgian presence in CAS? Recall that FilePool, a small Belgian company acquired by EMC in 2001 for $50 million, became the centerpiece of the Centera business. And we now have DataCenter Technologies (DCT).

Is there some kind of university or research center that turns out experts in this sector? “I’ve asked myself the same question,” said Dave Truslow, product general manager at DCT. “But no, there’s no connection between the 2 companies, even if our CTO does have some personal relationships with people at FilePool.

DCT was founded in 2001 by Belgian national Kristof De Spiegeleer, only 33, who became CTO, and who stepped back as CEO last spring to make room for Peter Shambora. De Spiegeleer has already had a full career, since he was previously director of European Hosting Engineering at PSINET, then founder of Internet service providers Dedigate and Hostbasket. Shambora is also wellknown in the industry, since he was the founder and CEO of StorageWay as well as VP of sales and marketing at Mylex and Storage Dimensions, then SVP of sales at MTI. 

An appliance…
OCT, specialized in economical data protection of fixed data offers a dedicated appliance, or alternately its software package. It has sold 140 of the appliances, which it calls DC-Protect, and in particular to a major customer, the Belgian telecom Belgacom, to handle the data generated by its 5.4 million customers. But it is especially focused on SMBs for the 1U IP product that is offered in 2 versions, one with a user capacity de 250GB mirrored (€5,900), the other culminating with 1TB in RAID-5 (€19,700). 

… and more importantly: CAS software
This type of appliance is fairly classic. What’s more interesting from the company is the software, which is embedded in the unit, but also offered separately. It allows for the backup, migration, replication and archiving of enterprise content such as email, documents and images on disk secondary storage in heterogeneous environment (Windows, Unix, Linux, but not Novell or Macintosh). So far, nothing revolutionary. But what makes this software solution so remarkable is that it is based on an original content addressed technology. After a thorough initial backup, not only will the software compare new or modified files to verify that they are not identical with those previously archived, but it goes even further, with a second process that involves breaking down each file into smaller segments in order to compare those pieces with all others, to avoid duplicating data even at that level.

Thanks to this double-edged effort to avoid doubling of data, “we are the best in terms of bandwidth and storage capacity,” according to Truslow. “Roughly 15% of files are touched every day, but that only results in 1 to 2% of the modifications, according to our users.”

DC-Protect has practically eliminated the traditional backup window,” asserts Peter Van Guelen, director of Belgacom NSI.

Encryption and compression are available as options. By means of API, the software can be used by 3rd-party applications such as Documentum, FileNet, ilumin or KVS. Note that the restore function is not immediate, since it requires a reconstruction of master files from their archived segments. The software also allows for the protection throughout a given retention period. 

Two distribution strategies
In order to distribute its products, OCT has come up with a 2-pronged strategy, one for Europe, one for the rest of the world. In America, the company is seeking exclusively to sell its software to OEM customers, for companies that wish to integrate the solution into their ILM environment.

One example is Atempo, which adopted the package. A Taiwanese RAID controller giant has also been signed, although the name has not been disclosed. OCT is also aiming at switch makers such as Brocade, Cisco and McData, which could use the product in future versions of their virtualization engines.

On the European side of the Atlantic, however, DCT distributes it appliances, essentially for SMBs.

To conclude, what would be best for the company, perhaps, would be to seek_a happy ending like that of FilePool, i.e., get bought up for the same sum.

This article is an abstract of news published on issue 203 on December 2004 from the former paper version of Computer Data  Storage Newsletter.

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