Nexenta scored a $21 million funding round this week, and the open-source ZFS-based software vendor will use the money to expand globally and market its new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product.
Nexenta’s NexantaStor software runs on commodity servers, turning them into multiprotocol storage systems. Nexenta CEO Evan Powell said Nexanta software was sold in $300 million of its partners’ hardware deals last year. The startup has more than 250 resellers. The largest is Dell, which uses Nexanta software in the Compellent zNAS product.
Powell said 50% of Nexenta’s sales are already international, and the vendor only has one person working outside of the U.S – in Beijing. He plans to add staff in China and open offices in Japan and the Netherlands and probably other countries.
On the product front, the vendor is preparing to launch NexentaVDI, a virtual appliance that integrates with VMware View. NexentaVDI lets customers quickly provision storage for virtual desktops, and helps optimize performance by allowing thresholds for IOPS per desktop.
Nexenta previewed the VDI software during VMware World Europe in Copenhagen last October. NexentaVDI is in beta, and Powell said he expects to launch around April.
Powell said another change coming is that he expects Nexenta software running on more solid-state device (SSD) storage systems this year. NexentaStor has been optimized to run on SSDs, but the hardware will continue to come from partners.
“As a software company, we can remove the pernicious vendor lock-in on storage,” Powell said. “Storage is one of the last bastions of lock-in business models. Customers want to know how much they’re going to pay for storage in the future, and there’s a pent-up demand to get back at storage vendors who have exploited their customers for 10 or 20 years. We publish our prices and we don’t lock you in [to hardware]. But users like to buy arrays, they want to buy a box, plug it in, see the lights blink, and they have storage. So we reach out to vendors who sell arrays.”
Nexenta could lose its biggest array partner, however. Dell has made it clear that it is integrating clustered NAS technology it acquired from Exanet into Compellent SAN arrays to make them multiprotocol systems. After that, will Dell need Nexenta?
Powell is hoping that Dell will continue offering zNAS as an option for Compellent. He said one prospective customer is looking at a multi-petabyte deployment including zNAS. “I believe there’s room for both proprietary scale-out NAS with Exanet and zNAS with NexentaStor,” Powell said.
We’ll have to wait to see if Dell agrees.