Jul 122012
 

This is a consolidated article by Joseph Kovar from CRN

Before launching into the 10 coolest storage startups for 2012 so far, it’s worth taking a minute to note a couple companies that would normally qualify for such a list but were acquired in the second quarter of this year, including:

XtremIO: This Israeli developer of all-Flash storage arrays was in May acquired by EMC, making EMC the first tier-one storage vendor to have such an offering once XtremIO completes its first product.

Schooner Information Technology: Schooner, a developer of enterprise open-source database software optimized for SSD use, was in June acquired by SanDisk, which just happens to make SSDs.

The lesson here? If you see a new vendor you like, better quickly partner up with it or risk starting up with a larger parent company later.

Here are the Top 10 Coolest for 2012

Actifio

Actifio, Waltham, Mass., is a startup developer of the Protection and Availability Storage (PAS) platform, which it claims allows businesses to instantly recover any data.

PAS eliminates multiple copies of files to reduce the data footprint by up to 90 percent, Actifio claims. Unlike traditional storage systems that create multiple copies of data for such purposes as storing the data, replicating it, restoring it and testing new applications, Actifio allows a single copy of the data to be used to recreate any version of the data from any point in time.

Actifio in March hired former Cisco and VCE channel executive Russell Rosa (left) to serve as its new vice president of worldwide channels.

Pricing for an Actifio PAS appliance starts at approximately $25000.

Bitcasa

Bitcasa, Mountain View, Calif., develops cloud storage technology that promises unlimited storage capacity, file sharing and mobile device data sync for $10 per month. Data on the Bitcasa cloud is encrypted and deduped on the client side before it is uploaded to the cloud, where only a single copy of duplicate blocks of data is stored.

The company expects customers will eventually store all their data in its cloud while maintaining as large a local cache as they require for storing frequently accessed data. The local cache also predicts which data will be accessed beforehand so it can download it from the cloud to the device.

GreenBytes

Ashaway, R.I.-based SSD array developer GreenBytes in May closed a $12-million B round of funding aimed at helping continue development of its all-SSD and hybrid SSD-hard drive storage solutions.

GreenBytes in 2010 came to market with its first array, a hybrid appliance called the HA-3000, which features both SSDs and spinning hard drives with a single controller. It targets the backup market by providing high-speed data deduplication.

The company more recently introduced its Solidarity, an all-SSD array with dual controllers targeting the primary storage array market for SMB customers.

Inktank

Los Angeles-based startup Inktank, founded by the developer of the open-source Ceph scalable distributed storage system, in May came out of stealth mode to provide enterprise-level support for customers looking to use Ceph to build scalable storage infrastructures.

Ceph is an open-source storage technology that provides object, block and file storage in a single file system for unified storage. It was originally developed as a Ph.D. project to solve issues related to scaling metadata in high-performance computing applications.

CEO and Chief Architect of Inktank Sage Weil is also the original developer of Ceph.

Nimbus Data

Based in San Francisco, Nimbus Data is the developer of all-solid state storage systems featuring enterprise-grade Flash memory. The arrays scale from 2.5 TB to 500 TB and feature up to 800,000 4-KB block I/Os per second speed. They also support multipathing, clustering and no single point of failure.

The company’s file system includes such features as inline deduplication, thin provisioning, snapshots, and synchronous mirroring and asynchronous replication.

Nimbus Data in January introduced its first formal channel program.

In January 2012 – Nimbus announced its entry into the high availability enterprise SSD market with the uveiling of the company’s – E-Class systems – which are 2U rackmount SSDs with 10TB eMLC per U of usable capacity and no single point of failure. Interface support includes unified 10GbE, FC, and Infiniband. Pricing starts at $150K approx for a 10TB dual configuration system.

Pure Storage

Pure Storage, based in Mountain View, Calif., develops storage arrays based on Flash memory technology instead of hard drives, and in May introduced its first products, a line of Flash memory-based arrays it said are priced competitively with traditional hard drive-based arrays.

The company claims its Pure Storage FlashArray 2.0 offers ten times the performance of a disk array while being smaller and easier to install, and yet it is priced similar to a disk array, thanks to its use of low-cost, multilevel cell (MLC) Flash technology instead of the more robust and more expensive single-level cell (SLC) or enhanced MLC (eMLC) technologies. It uses software to ensure the reliability of the MLC Flash memory.

Pure’s pricing pitch

The pricing strategy is to sell the array in the $5 to $10/GB area – usable gigabytes that is and not raw GB. This is, Pure says, the EMC/HDS/IBM/NetApp flash cached disk drive array area, not the $20 to $50/usable GB area occupied by tier zero DRAM or all-flash appliances like Violin Memory and the coming EMC Thunder.

Pure Storage’s pricing is set above that of what it terms “tier two mid-market arrays”, such as Dell EqualLogic ones with flash and SATA disk drive tiering. So Pure’s pitch is one of much-better than tier one disk drive array performance, approaching tier zero levels, but at tier one drive array pricing.

Starboard Storage

New Jersey-based Starboard Storage Systems in February came out of stealth mode with a channel-only model for its new AC72 storage architecture, designed to handle mixed workloads including structured, unstructured and virtualized data with a single platform.

The AC72 pools hard drives and SSDs into one dynamic storage pool that can be carved up as needed for mixed workloads. Included is an SSD accelerator tier that adds performance to the storage operations, as well as I/O monitoring technology that automatically tiers storage as needed.

The AC72 storage node is fully redundant with no single point of failure and comes in two main versions, including one optimized for storage performance and the other optimized for storage capacity.

StorSimple

StorSimple, Santa Clara, Calif., in April started selling a new series of storage appliances featuring local capacity of up to 100 TB integrated with cloud-based primary, archive, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.

The new line from StorSimple ranges in terms of on-premise capacity from 10 TB to 100 TB, after dedupe and compression. One new feature, Cloud Snap, puts data snapshots on the cloud that can be used to quickly recover data even if the application that produced the data is not available. The appliances also let data be recovered to the original customer site or, in a disaster, in a remote site.

The StorSimple 5020, 5520, 7020, and 7520 appliances are available immediately, with prices starting at $40,000.

Symform

Symform, developer of a distributed storage cloud that backs up one user’s data across multiple users’ storage devices, in April closed a new $8 million investment round.

The Seattle-based company’s Resilient Storage Architecture breaks up a customer’s data into 64-MB blocks, encrypts them with AES-256 encryption technology, breaks those blocks into 1-MB fragments, adds 32 more 1-MB fragments for parity and then scatters them across storage nodes contributed by other customers.

Those cloud storage nodes are simply space on one or more hard drives contributed by each customer via the Internet. The amount each customer contributes depends on how much cloud storage capacity the customer wishes to access. Each customer pays $50 per server per month with no limit on usage.

Tintri

Tintri, a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of storage appliances aimed specifically at handling storage in virtualized environments, in February demonstrated its new Tintri VMstore T540 appliance, the company’s second-generation virtual machine-aware storage appliance.

New features include dual storage controllers, expanded usable capacity of up to 13.5 TB in a 3U form factor, end-to-end latency that allows admins to visualize performance bottlenecks and a virtual machine auto-alignment feature that automates the process of aligning virtual machines to the storage layer. The T540 also includes a new four-hour support option that Tintri said guarantees it will respond to any issue within a short window.

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Jun 132012
 

From The SSD Review

Starboard Storage Systems, a company that was launched in February, has announced the release of their AC72 mixed storage system.

Facilitating what Starboard is calling “Application Crafted Storage”, the new unit should allow administrators to employ a “set it and forget it” attitude when it comes to managing storage.

This will allow the focus to be exclusively on maintaining applications. Many an IT manager will no doubt appreciate this.

The new system will incorporate what the company is referring to as a Dynamic Storage Pool, which transfers data in parallel so that performance scales with the addition of new drives. The feature also allows new drives to be added on the fly and doesn’t require any array rebuilding, like a traditional RAID configuration would, which should make any wired techs job that much easier.

Starboard also mentions an SSD accelerator tier, which, like the name implies, is a multi-tiered SSD caching scheme which allocates the newest data to the fastest storage. Starboard states that performance is doubled by its inclusion, making it a welcome addition which should significantly improve application performance, providing consistent responsiveness for end-users and admins alike.

The AC72 will include support for protocols such as CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel, and will provide up to 474TB of storage. Starboard Storage Pricing starts at $59,995 for the 24 TB variant. Costs may vary based on location and channel method.

The interesting thing about this news is, of course, that Starboard Systems quite literally came into existence today. According to several different sources, they have their roots in a company called Reldata, which was also a provider of storage systems. Starboard has stated that they will continue to support existing Reldata products, though they will no longer be supplying new systems.

I do have to wonder, though, about Starboard System’s decision to enter the enterprise storage market just as other companies are beginning to diversify. It really does seem like a bit of a gamble at this point in time, even with the advanced capabilities of their new product. Perhaps previous reports regarding the saturation of this market segment were overstated. On the other hand, it could be that Starboard will begin expanding their business rapidly to ensure continued growth.

Whatever ends up happening, it’s certainly going to be an interesting year for the enterprise storage market, as we now have another strong player in what is turning out to be a fascinating part of the industry. I think what may be so intriguing, specifically, is the fact that multiple participants in this segment have released SSD caching solutions, Starboard Systems being the latest entry.

Seeing as only one company is supplying caching software for the consumer space at the moment, the opportunity seems ripe for the introduction of another contestant in this young but promising field. Being that Ultrabooks, one of the main benefactors of SSD caching, are expected to explode in popularity, this avenue certainly seems like an excellent path to business growth bliss. With any luck, enterprise oriented firms will embrace being diverse in lieu of having an adverse reaction to what could possibly be one of the most lucrative markets this year.

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May 102012
 

Starboard Storage Systems, a data storage hardware startup, has raised $13 million in venture capital from a pair of German investment firms.

The 39-employee company is based in Broomfield.

JP Ventures GmBH, of Öhringen, Germany, joined existing investor Grazia Equity GmbH, of Stuttgart, in the funding round.

Starboard had considered three or four other VC firms interested in investing in it, but chose the relatively new JP Ventures because its approach to investing seemed the best fit, said Victor Walker, Starboard’s CEO.

“They take a long-term view, and they invest to build companies,” he said.

Starboard started in 2010 in New Jersey, backed by Wall Street investors who wanted to create a modern data storage technology company. They attracted local data storage industry veterans Bill Chambers, a co-founder of Lefthand Networks, and Walker, formerly of Storage Technology Corp. and Sun Microsystems.

They moved the company’s headquarters to Broomfield to draw on the many experienced software and data-storage workers in the northwest metro area.

It started selling its data-storage devices to IT systems resellers in February.

“We’ve had great early customer validation and traction,” Walker said. “With the raising of this round, we’ll significantly scale up our sales presence nationwide and beef up our support for those customers.”

Starboard sells exclusively through resellers, and it has 50 signed up so far, he said.

In the next 60 days, Starboard expects to expand from the company’s current sales force of nine to 24 or more around the country. Their job will be to work with valued-added resellers.

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 May 10, 2012  Starboard Storage