Auspex software tracks file changes

Network-attached storage appliance vendor Auspex Systems next week plans to introduce technology that companies can use to track changes to their files for the purpose of improving application workflow and integrity.

Dubbed CogniStor, the technology monitors NAS appliances and other servers for files that are modified, created, deleted or accessed. It notifies end users or applications of specific changes made to content and, based on a set of rules, dictates what, if any, action should be taken.

"Since we know a lot about the files our [NAS devices] handle, it is not a difficult extension to keep track of file changes, additions and deletions," says Bob Iacona, vice president of marketing.

For instance, a network manager might want to automatically scan any file being saved from a diskette drive or CD-ROM for viruses. The manager could create a rule that says, "If a file is being saved from Drive A or D, scan the file for viruses, isolate it to its own directory if a virus is detected, and notify the administrator by e-mail."

Another example would be a search engine company that has to constantly re-index its content in response to queries. It could use CogniStor to update search results when its software indicated that changes to Web pages had occurred. Or, a law firm might want to alert attorneys to documents containing certain sensitive words.

At first glimpse it appears that Auspex's storage technology doesn't operate much differently than that of snapshot back-up products that save changed files to media whenever an administrator specifies.

But Blair Hicks, systems administrator with LIDP Consulting Services in Woodridge, Ill., explains the difference.

"We were using a snapshot utility every hour on the Auspex server to recover files if we needed to," says Hicks, whose company consults for the life insurance industry and has 100 programmers constantly making changes to software code. "CogniStor runs on a separate server and tracks files whenever they change. When the snapshot software ran, it caused the Auspex server to be unresponsive for 20 to 30 seconds - this caused our developers some concern."

Auspex will make its CogniStor software available in several ways. The company will license the software directly for US$2,500 per server to users and to vendors for incorporation in their applications. The software runs on a Solaris server separate from a NAS appliance or a file server running Windows NT/2000 or NetWare.

Auspex also will include the technology in its IntelliSnap and IntelliScan products, which are scheduled for introduction next month. IntelliSnap is versioning software that can restore copies of any file from any point in time. IntelliScan alerts virus-detection packages to scan new or changed files immediately.

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