EMC: Clear Skies For NAS


Storage vendor buys Rainfinity to extend virtualization technology


EMC expanded on its strategy of virtualizing customers&' storage—this time focusing on the NAS side— with last week&'s acquisition of Rainfinity.

The Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage vendor, which in May unveiled its Invista appliance for virtualizing multivendor storage arrays into a single pool on a SAN, will use Rainfinity&'s technology to target NAS virtualization, said Tom Joyce, vice president of platforms marketing at EMC.

San Jose, Calif.-based Rainfinity, a seven-year-old private firm with about 50 customers, developed technology that allows the virtualization of multiple NAS appliances into a single pool that enables tiered storage management, performance optimization, capacity management and file server consolidation.

“It gives customers a single presentation of their data across heterogeneous platforms, including EMC and other storage devices, including files on a SAN behind a NAS head,” Joyce said.

The true value of the Rainfinity technology comes from the ability to easily manage file-based data, said Joyce. “Many accounts have thousands of file servers and thousands of file systems,” he said. “That&'s a lot of data to manage. This technology can move that data seamlessly without impacting the application, from one NAS appliance to another, or from one vendor to another, or from an old system to a new one, or from costly to less-costly storage.”

Peter Lesser, managing partner at Kraft Kennedy and Lesser, a New York-based solution provider, said the acquisition looks like another push by EMC to virtualize storage in every way it can.

“I wouldn&'t be surprised to see them put the Rainfinity technology in their Invista and use it as a way to virtualize both SAN and NAS,” Lesser said.
The Rainfinity technology is software-based and is sold configured on a general-purpose x86 server as an appliance, according to Joyce. However, he said it could also be sold as a software product.

Both EMC and rival Network Appliance have reseller arrangements with Rainfinity, Joyce said, and NetApp will be able to continue that relationship if it chooses.

Along with the NAS virtualization appliance, Rainfinity also boasts firewall security technology, known as Rainwall.

Joyce said EMC will offer Rainwall while evaluating how the technology fits with its strategy.

“Security is important to EMC,” Joyce said. “We want to look at that technology and see what opportunities are there.”