Calgary firm pushes disk-based archiving software

Calgary-based El Fresko Technologies is shifting its focus to disk-based archiving after announcing new storage software aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.


The company said Tuesday that its MagnaStor product is designed for today’s age of heightened compliancy and e-discovery concerns. The software brings the capabilities of write-once, read-many (WORM) to magnetic storage, which will prevent an organization from overwriting previously written data on a disk.


El Fresko, which has a background in optical disk/DVD archiving, was founded in 2008 after a merger between K-Par Archiving Software and INSTAR Corporation.


CEO Mark Fowlie said MagnaStor will operate as a “file system” that tracks and monitors archived data through its entire lifecycle, providing a “chain of custody” for IT administrators. All the digital records in the system are attached to metadata, in order for data to be traced and verified as it moves throughout the organization.


“When a file moves from system to system, all that metadata also moves with it,” Fowlie said, referring to MagnaStor’s file system as a digital journal.


He added that MagnaStor utilizes existing hardware investments and runs across a multitude of different platforms and operating systems. The software will also be able to detect hardware-related errors automatically during the archiving and storage process.


With the product, which Fowlie said would have entry-level pricing ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 depending on storage needs, El Fresko is specifically targeting SMEs with data preservation needs in the e-discovery age.


But for Dave Pearson, a senior research analyst with IDC Canada Ltd.’s infrastructure solutions research group, this focus could be a tough sell for some Canadian firms simply because the country still has relaxed compliancy laws.


“We’ve not found it to be a big driver for IT spending outside of firms in the legal or financial profession,” he said, predicting that U.S. firms will probably be more interested in the product.


While Pearson had not been able to try the product yet, on paper, MagnaStor looks to be exactly what many IT shops are looking for in terms of data archiving. This includes no disconnect in the various file copies users are keeping, a complete data archive timeline and high availability.


He added that many of the major complaints against magnetic disk storage products in the past, which include high costs and reliability concerns, have largely been addressed.


With the MagnaStor product, Pearson was particularly impressed with the low price point. A lot of companies like insurance or law firms are often looking at high-end solutions such as older tape backup systems, he added, but these organizations would probably be better suited looking into disk-based archiving.

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