PowerFile Seeks VARs For New DVD Data Archiving Appliance

The new Active Archive Appliance is a completely integrated version of a similar appliance that PowerFile had offered using third-party hardware and software since January, said Jim Sherhart, director of product management at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

Although optical storage has suffered from an image of being expensive, proprietary technology, Sherhart said the Active Archive Appliance leverages industry-standard DVD technology to reduce the cost and complexity of long-term data archiving.

"We've made this one-tenth to one-twentieth the cost of disk-based systems," Sherhart said. "That's one of the advantages of leveraging off-the-shelf DVD technology. And the format is ubiquitous, so people don't have to worry about accessing their data five or 10 years later, even if PowerFile isn't around."

While customers looking to archive data for several years for compliance purposes may turn to disk-based appliances such as EMC's Centera or Network Appliances' NearStore, those that want to make sure data is accessible for the next 50 years or beyond will find DVD technology the right solution, especially with high-quality DVD disks that have a media life of up to 300 years, Sherhart said.

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And for short-term storage of data in a noncompliance-related format, DVD is much cheaper than hard disk-based appliances, Sherhart added. "If you want to keep data for seven to 10 years, even if the SATA disks could be gotten for free, it's still too costly," he said. "You need to replace the disks every three years, you need to migrate the data and so on."

DVD technology also has advantages over the archiving medium of choice, tape. "Now nearly 100 percent of data goes to tape to die," Sherhart said. "With the Active Archive Appliance, data doesn't go to tape to die but remains in a searchable format."

PowerFile sells its appliance through solution providers via such distributors as Ingram Micro, Rorke Data, Cranel Imaging and Optical Laser.

The Active Archive Appliance, which works with nearly all third-party data backup software, starts at 3.4 Tbytes capacity and scales up to 30 Tbytes in blocks of 1.7 Tbytes. It plugs into networks supporting DFS and CIFS protocols and includes software for management and writing of data in a WORM (Write Once, Read Many) format. The product's starting list price is $15,900.

PowerFile was formed in 1999 and focused on direct-attached DVD robotic libraries until 2004, Sherhart said. In 2004, the company received venture-capital funding from the same company that provided initial funding for Network Appliance. Dan Warmenhoven, NetApp's CEO, sits on PowerFile's board.