Nearby Data Is Useful Data - InformationWeek

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3/4/2003
02:07 PM
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Nearby Data Is Useful Data

Storigen Systems offers method for moving information so it's cached closer to users

Storage networking has produced changes in the way some enterprises manage their storage resources. But storage networks still don't work well when it comes to remote locations.

If an office is more than 125 miles or so from the central site, some other form of networking is needed to connect people to the information held in storage. That can pose problems. Using a WAN running Ethernet creates latency problems, especially when a company is trying to send large data or video files.

Storigen Systems Inc. is working with storage vendors to bypass the IP latency issue and bring the benefits of storage networking and high-speed performance to remote sites. By helping companies set up caching and storage devices in locations around the world, Storigen tries to reduce the amount of time it takes to deliver data to those who request it.

The latest to sign on is Discovery Communications Inc., owner of The Discovery Channel. The company needed to improve its ability to collaborate with divisions, partners, and individuals who propose program ideas. For Discovery, many of those ideas come from sources in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Discovery, for example, uses Storigen software to run a central site in Singapore that holds and provides data for 10 remote offices around Asia. Many television companies still send programming ideas via videotape. "Bits-in-a-box video sent overnight is still very common in our industry," says Mona Abutaleb, senior VP of global shared services at Discovery.

In the past, "someone in Asia would have a great idea for a show and send their 30-second promo in a box," she says. But that resulted in a lengthy approval process, and sometimes a competitor would wind up signing the deal while Discovery was still reviewing the tape. Now that video idea can be digitized and sent over the Internet so it's waiting in the right person's in-box when he or she logs on in the morning.

Storigen mainly sells software to manage storage servers, configure storage resources, and provide alternative and quicker routing paths for content over the Internet. Discovery has a Storigen Edge Storage Manager in each region of the world and Storigen Edge Storage Servers in many of its remote sites. Storigen's software runs on Intel hardware and Windows or Linux operating systems. The vendor will sell complete hardware and software systems to customers that want them, or the software will run on standard servers from Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, or IBM. The storage-management software also works with existing storage systems.

"Companies want to consolidate servers and storage for reduced cost of operations," says Dennis Hoffman, CEO at Storigen. Many customers move data to other parts of the world during off-peak hours, store it locally, and then route requests for data to the nearest storage device holding a copy of the data. Pricing for Storigen's Edge Storage Manager, including hardware and software, starts at $25,000 and typically can cost hundreds of thousands or up to a million dollars.

"Storage logically lives back at the mother ship," says Peter Christy, an analyst at NetsEdge Research Group. "But if you want the information as useful as possible, you want it to appear next to where it's consumed."

Christy says Storigen seems to handle that task well for companies that want to keep control in-house. Direct competitors include Network Appliance Inc. and Tacit Networks Inc., although caching and content-delivery networks promise many of the same benefits.

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