DataCore Software is in the waste management business. According to analysts such as Jim Cassell of Gartner, the utilisation of installed storage capacity across most organisations is as low as 25%. Since the late 1990s, a solution to this has been to link all departmental – and indeed centralised disk systems – in a storage area network (SAN), so users can get access to enterprise-wide data and capacity can be spread more efficiently.
But to manage a SAN, an organisation needs to be able to view that web of storage devices as a virtual pool. Since 1998, Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based DataCore has been offering a network storage ‘virtualisation' engine that it claims can help get utilisation rates up to 85% to 90%.
DataCore's primary product, SANsymphony, does that by dynamically managing the allocation of storage capacity without the intervention of network administrators. Equally important, the software manages disk capacity across devices from all the major storage vendors – Compaq, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun. To date, DataCore has focused on fibre channel-based SANs, but the company is also moving into the embryonic SAN management over Internet Protocol (IP) market.
Sticking to its technology focus, the company distributes SANSymphony exclusively through systems integrators and SAN storage systems makers (such as MTI and Fujitsu). The $75 million it has raised in funding has helped extend this sales network to Europe, where around 40 of its 100 customers are based, including French telecommunications vendor Alcatel and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Undoubtedly, DataCore faces tough competition from much larger vendors – Veritas Software, StoreAge Networking Technologies, HP (following its mid-2001 acquisition of StorageApps), and Falcon-Stor. But its pioneering role in storage virtualisation puts it in a strong position to lead efforts to remove the waste of space from corporate data storage.