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Incipient Goes Virtually GA

Quoting Byte and Switch

In the three months between when Incipient announced limited availability for its Network Storage Platform (NSP) and general availability, little has changed for the startup's offering or switch-based virtualization in general.

Incipient today revealed general availability for the software it began shipping to testers and early adopters in September. Incipient isn't naming any customers beyond the city of Mesa, Ariz., and still supports only Cisco's intelligent switch.

Incipient hasn't lost any ground, though. EMC's Invista virtualization software is still largely in the testing phase, and none of the smaller competitors have made any headway. One Incipient rival, StoreAge, was purchased by LSI Logic in October, but LSI hasn't revealed any updates or concrete plans for the StoreAge Virtualization Manager (SVM) platform.

The only new switch platform release in the past three months came from lame-duck McData in hopes it will make the cut after getting engulfed by rival Brocade.

If you're keeping track, here's what the switch-based storage virtualization space looks like: EMC's Invista is available on Brocade and Cisco switches; Incipient's NSP runs on Cisco; StoreAge SVM runs on switches from QLogic and McData; and Fujitsu Eternus software runs on Brocade.

None are widely implemented, especially compared to IBM's network-based SAN Volume Controller (SVC) storage virtualization. Still, customers express interest in storage virtualization as long as it is mature.

Incipient's NSP provides data migration and volume management in its basic package, with snapshots costing extra. Analyst Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group says the features are enough for it to make an impact in the early market, but it needs more partners to drive sales.

"Now that they're GA, they need to start ramping up and announcing more wins," Schulz says.

Schulz says Incipient needs both platform (switch) and channel partners to succeed. "From the technology partnership standpoint, Incipient needs to run on more platforms than just Cisco," Schulz says. "And on the other side of the partnerships, Incipient needs to be sold, resold, OEM'd, rebranded or whatever by some partners. They need somebody else helping them to get a footprint."

Hewlett-Packard has the biggest gap in the storage virtualization software department. IBM would also need software if it were to add switch-based virtualization to go with SVC. IBM has talked to Incipient, but also has a close partnership with LSI -- IBM sells LSI's Engenio storage systems through an OEM deal.

On the switch front, Incipient is betting on Cisco continuing to gain market share and beating Brocade in the battle to pick up McData customers. Robert Infantino, Incipient's senior VP of marketing and alliances, says several financial services firms with petabytes or more of storage are evaluating NSP on the Cisco MDS 9000 Storage Services Module (SSM).

"Right now, our focus is on the Cisco platform," Infantino says. "All of our resources are devoted to building a relationship with Cisco customers, both those who have Cisco and those switching over to Cisco."

On the reseller side, Incipient is still selling direct, but Infantino says he hopes to have partnerships within the next three months. Infantino says there will be another release of NSP with more features, probably around midyear. He won't say what will be added, but replication is a likely candidate.

Read or comment on the original, here.

Published Wednesday, January 03, 2007 6:44 AM by David Marshall
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