Symantec has launched a free version of Storage Foundation in an attempt to entice enterprise customers into installing the storage management software on servers running outside their data centres.

With this product, called Storage Foundation Basic, the company is hoping to broaden the appeal of its software, said Kris Hagerman, senior vice president of Symantec's Data Center Management group.

"We want to allow customers to have the same kind of benefits they get largely on their mission-critical servers and apply that to every single server in their data centre," he said.

Customers can download Storage Foundation Basic as many times as they like, but they can only use the free version on small servers.Those who want to use the product on servers with more than two processors, or on servers that host more than four file systems or hard-drive partitions, will have to pay, Hagerman said.

For those who use the free product, support contracts can be purchased starting at US$98 per CPU per year.

The free software comes as Symantec is beta-testing a new 5.0 version of its Storage Foundation software suite, which it expects to ship in July.

The update will include improvements in the way the Storage Foundation moves information onto different types of storage devices - a process called dynamic storage tiering - as well as performance and data replication advancements.

But according to Hagerman, the most interesting new component of the 5.0 product will be the Storage Foundation Management Server, which will allow administrators to view and make changes to the storage on many different Storage Foundation servers.

The Management Server is an interesting enhancement, said Bradley Bishop, a senior software engineer with the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). The exchange has more than 600TB of data on hundreds of servers, which are running the Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and Linux operating systems. With this new software, CBOE can manage its large number of Storage Foundation systems using an SNMP management platform like BMC' s Patrol.

"We can manage all of the elements on the Storage Foundation Suite from one plane of glass," he said.

CBOE also is interested in using the free version of Storage Foundation on systems like Web servers, Bishop said. "We'll be able to deploy this across our whole computing area," he said. "For us to be able to support this across hundreds of thousands of nodes makes it attractive."

More information on Storage Foundation Basic can be found at: http://www.symantec.com/enterprise/sfbasic/index.jsp