Wang Becomes Player in Network Storage Management

Wang seeks to become synonymous with a burgeoning storage technology

Since the early 1990s, managers at the Environmental Protection Agency's regional operation in Denver have been burdened by the exploding data production of a sprawling network of PCs, which linked offices in six states.

An EPA official estimated the regional network stored just 6 gigabytes of data when it was established in 1990. With data files almost doubling in size each year, EPA managers in 1994 turned to Avail Systems Corp., a small software company in Boulder, Colo., for help in managing its data.

As the developer of Avail NetSpace, Avail Systems had created a storage management software product that enabled systems managers at the EPA's Denver office to automate the storage of EPA data. The EPA was not the only entity impressed with Avail. Shortly after the storage company won its EPA contract, Wang Laboratories, Billerica, Mass., acquired Avail in a stock swap for $32 million.

Fred Richardson, vice president and general manager of the Wang Software Storage Management Group, said the newly acquired division is strengthening Wang's ability to service the work-flow and imaging markets. Federal agencies are being targeted by Wang's federal sales division with regard to Avail HSM products. He added that a federal security agency, unidentified by Richardson for security reasons, is currently conducting beta tests of an Avail HSM product.

"The need for storage has gone through the roof. The federal government is notorious for its ability to generate data. The government, in the process of becoming more efficient, is having to automate," Richardson said.

Richardson said the newly acquired software group is working with Microsoft to provide a storage management software product for Microsoft's upcoming NT software upgrade. In addition to working with Microsoft, Wang is releasing new imaging and work-flow software products that will likely boost the position of Avail storage management software.

"Operating systems have not done a good job managing the data," he said. "Avail gives Wang storage management capability that it didn't have before. Wang is now the leading provider of that technology for NetWare. We've got 75 percent of the NetWare market."

Meanwhile at the EPA, Wang's newly acquired hierarchical storage management technology is relieving EPA employees of manually reviewing and disposing of old or unusable data files. It has also enabled the EPA to automate an archival system that has traditionally required employees to retrieve computer tapes by hand.

"[Avail HSM software] helps us clean up the network. Our system has 1,100 nodes and stores 100 gigabytes of data," said Paul Braunschweig, a senior systems manager in the EPA's Denver office.

"The data management software gets rid of old, outdated files. It's saved us from committing one or two employees to cleaning up the network on a full-time basis."

Braunschweig predicts the data capacity of Denver's EPA regional network will expand to 200 gigabytes by 2000.

Industry analysts say the federal government is a crucial arena for companies seeking to prove that their software effectively manages data storage. "The federal government is clearly a powerhouse of storage. It is a critical market," said Robert Abraham of Freemen Associates Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based market research firm.

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