Tacit Networks, a wide-area file system (WAFS) supplier, appears set to buy Mobiliti, a supplier of backup and synchronisation software for notebook computer users.

WAFS products enable the fast delivery of files held centrally to remote offices through techniques such as network optimisation, file compression and caching at the remote office. Files altered at the branch office sites are returned to the data centre and the changes then apply to every subsequent access to the file. Tacit has an Ishared caching device for branch offices which provides mail, file and print serving.

Mobiliti's Network/Unplugged software secures notebook computer users files by synchronising them with central copies when the notebook is connected to a network. Its [email protected] software provides real-time backup of the notebook user's files. In both cases only the byte-level changes of altered files are transmitted across the network thus reducing network bandwidth requirements and transmission time.

No other WAFS supplier, such as Expand or Riverbed, has this file synchronisation and backup technology for notebook users.

McData entering WAFS market
Coincidentally McDATA is about to enter the WAFS market with a product based on its existing SAN switch technology. A WAFS layer will be added as part of its switch Application Service Module layer. Files, constructed from blocks in the SAN attached to the switch, will then be sent over a WAFs link to some device in branch offices from where they can be accessed by the remote desktop users.

It will be the first time that a WAFS front-end in the data centre is potentially SAN-aware. Existing WAFS front-end devices don't distinguish between different kinds of TCP/IP data and are not SAN-aware. The McData offering could change that and offer a more efficient service.

Jeff Vogel, corporate development and strategy SVP, said: "We looked beyond sheer networking optimisation." He said that the device needed in the remote offices: "is a technology play" suggesting that it could come through an OEM arrangement. "Expect an announcement in 60 days."