F5 Networks has done much to improve the storage game for data centers through its ARX technology, which features intelligent tiering to reduce the time and costs associated with regular backups, especially for large, data-intensive companies. Now the company is extending that functionality to support cloud-based storage.

ARX Cloud Extender brings the same capability as F5’s ARX series and its intelligent tiering technology, which only backs up data that has changed since the last backup. Cloud Extender uses that same intelligence so users can create customizable policies that automatically identify and migrate the appropriate files to cloud storage, creating a seamless environment between the physical data center and the cloud.

“The compound annual growth rate of data is 60 percent, yet IT budgets are growing much more modestly at a rate of about 3 percent,” said Nigel Burmeister, director of product marketing at F5. Along with that, he noted, 90 percent of storage data is unstructured, which means a whole lot of unnecessary data is being backed up, taking up a whole lot of room. ARX cuts that amount dramatically, so no matter where the data is being backed up to, the system only updates the data that has changed since the last backup, the company claims.

ARX Cloud Extender has been qualified for use with Amazon S3, Iron Mountain VFS cloud storage and NetApp StorageGRID, according to F5, and additional service providers are in qualification.

The company also took the ARX functionality and made it into a virtual appliance. ARX VE enables companies to deploy the technology in myriad environments such as branch offices or smaller organizations that otherwise would not have been able to afford the necessary infrastructure – especially useful for smaller organizations that deal in heavy amounts of data such as healthcare agencies and insurance companies.

Finally, F5 has announced iControl file services API, which allows software vendors and customers to integrate ARX’s file virtualization capabilities to enhance existing data management solutions and enable new applications. Developers can incorporate the real-time change notification capability into any number of applications such as search index, backup, audit and quota management tools. The API, which supports .NET, Java and Python, will be made available via F5’s DevCentral developer community.

F5’s recognition that the cloud is quickly becoming an integral part of many enterprise data storage strategies, coupled with its willingness – nee, invitation – to share its technology with application developers are good indicators of a company with its eye on the horizon. It will be worth noting whether the storage community follows F5’s lead.

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