Storage area networks (SANs) are complex beasts. Their purpose is to enable organisations to ‘pool’ their storage resources so they can allocate capacity to applications across any of their networked storage devices. But making that a reality requires a new breed of storage management software.
That was the founding focus of InterSAN. CEO Chris Melville says the company’s Pathline software, released in late 2001, cuts the time and effort IT departments need to spend
‘provisioning’ storage across a SAN. This slashes storage administration costs.
Pathline enables administrators to manage provisioning from a single console across a global SAN. It searches a local or globally distributed SAN to determine the optimal ‘virtual data storage path’ for each attached application, then applies that path.
“By hiding the complexity of managing different software or hardware devices in a data path, InterSAN can reduce to a single step the provisioning of storage to applications. That compares with substantially more steps with traditional tools,” says Melville.
However, InterSAN, which was founded by Melville and chief technology officer Christina Mercier after they left network attached storage specialist Auspex Systems in 2000, faces some heavyweight competition. Its most notable rivals are storage systems vendors EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and storage software companies Veritas Software and Fujitsu Softek.
Its singular focus – plus $28 million in venture funding and a launch into Europe in late 2002 – will help, but there has been no avalanche of customers’ orders. Since the release of Pathline, the company has clinched fewer than 10 deals – which is surprising given that analyst reports suggest about 40% of the world’s largest companies have completed or are rolling out a SAN in some area of their operations.
Against that backdrop, InterSAN needs to forge some close partnerships with major storage vendors – either as resellers of its products or even as potential buyers of the company.