How does a startup get $47.5 million in funding in today’s economy?
“By being a leader in a pretty hot sector,” says David Flynn, CTO and one of the founders of Fusion-io, which closed its whopping Series B round today.
That hot sector is flash technology, which is rapidly making its way into enterprise storage. It also helps that Hewlett-Packard is an OEM partner, using Fusion-io’s ioMemory technology in the HP StorageWorks IO Accelerator NAND flash-based storage adapter. Fusion-io also has technology partnerships with IBM and Dell.
Flynn says the Series B funding will help Fusion-io “broadly address the market that’s growing at a break-neck pace, as well as to help us engineer our next-generation product.”
The first of these next-generation products is the ioSAN, due for release over the summer. Fusion-io describes the PCI Express-based ioSAN as server-deployed network-attached solid state storage.
“We’re working on what we call server-deployed network storage – putting components into the server to share high-performance storage over the network,” Flynn said.
Flynn says more than 400 customers are using Fusion-io cards, most of them large organizations running relational databases, web servers, or virtual machines.
Fusion-io also officially announced David Bradford as its CEO, although that move happened at least a month ago. Bradford spent 15 years as Novell, including three years reporting to current Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Bradford also brought Apple founder Steve Wozniak to Fusion-io as chief scientist a few months back.
Now that “Woz” is no longer dancing with the stars, he can devote more time to Fusion-io. Flynn says while Wozniak’s name recognition has helped Fusion-io generate attention, it wasn’t much of a factor in attracting new VC Lightspeed Venture Partners and getting more funding from Series A investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Dell Ventures and Sumitomo Ventures.
“It may help get attention, but don’t think it was substantial in closing the deal,” Flynn said. “I think our OEM relationship with HP, our deep relationship with IBM, the fact that Dell is an investor, and our huge market potential is the real essence of why we got funded.”
Isilon Systems finally took Wall Street’s advice about slashing staff today, revealing it would reduce its worldwide workforce by approximately 10%.
Isilon had 394 employees at the end of 2008. The clustered NAS vendor is also changing its chief of sales, brining in NetApp and Quantum veteran George Bennett to replace Steve Fitz as SVP of worldwide field operations.
Financial analysts have called on Isilon to cut staff since founder Sujal Patel took over as CEO in September of 2007. The company hasn’t had a profitable quarter since going public in 2006.
Patel gave up his resistance to the cuts, and estimated the reduction will cost $850,000 this quarter and then save the company $4 million annually.
“It’s clear that persistent global economic weakness and uncertainty has led to contraction in many of our customers’ IT budgets,” Patel said in a press release today announcing the restructuring.
Isilon actually met sales expectations despite suffering wider losses than expected, according to the preliminary results it disclosed today. Isilon expects revenue in the range of $26.5 million to $27 million, up approximately 10% to 12% from the same period last year and down approximately 15% to 17% from the fourth quarter of 2008. Although Isilon did not give a previous forecast for the quarter, financial analysts expected around $26.9 million in revenue and a loss of 12 cents per share. Isilon said it expects to lose 14 cents to 15 cents per share.
The company also took an inventory writedown of around $3.8 million because of the softening economy for its older products in anticipation of customers moving to its new products launched last month.
“That means there was faster adoption of new product, but they were unable to get rid of the old solution, so that’s a mixed bag,” Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said.
3PAR’s new F Class midrange systems that launched today look a lot like its T-Class enterprise systems, only smaller. So the F-Class inherits its share of enterprise features as well as the gap in the T-Class platform
The enterprise features includes the ability to scale to four controllers – other midrange systems support two controllers – and what 3PAR calls Mesh-Active controller nodes. Mesh-Active controller architecture provides symmetrical access to all LUNs, instead of connecting a LUN to one controller.
At least one analyst, Evaluator Group managing partner Russ Fellows, gives 3PAR high grades for bringing those features to the midrange.
“By scaling to four controllers, they have twice as many as any midrange class system out there,” he said. “And the system scales literally, with symmetric LUN access. All high-end data center systems support symmetric LUN access across controllers, but pretty much nobody in the midrange does.”
However, 3PAR’s new midrange systems share the same missing feature as its enterprise systems. At a time when just about every new storage system rollout includes solid state drive (SSD) support, 3PAR still has none.
“We will support solid state, but the pressure to do so has been muted compared to what we’ve observed with other storage vendors,” 3PAR VP of markeing Craig Nunes says.
Nunes said when 3PAR gets into SSD, it will be with a SATA interface instead of the pricier FC-attached SSDs.
“If you need higher IOPS, we deliver that today with wide striping,” he said. “Fibre Channel-attached SSDs are premium priced and will never cross over the dollar per IOP line. Wide striping is better. The next wave of SATA-interfaced SSD drives promises to drop that IOP per dollar to the crossover point.”
Although competitors offer SSDs in the midrange as well as the enterprise, Fellows says lack of SSD support hurts 3PAR more with its enterprise systems than with the F-Class. “In the midrange, you add more than six SSDs and you have a million-dollar system, and that’s not a midrange system anymore,” he said. “That will change in a year or two. But it is a bit of a drawback now in the high end.”
Double-Take is consolidating its server-based replication, TimeData CDP, GeoGluster software for Microsoft stretched clusters, LiveWire bare-metal restor, and emBoot’s netboot iSCSI boot-from-SAN and sanFly iSCSI target products into four titles:
Double-Take director of solutions engineering Bob Roudebush, says Double-Take Move and Double-Take Flex are available now. Double-Take Backup and Double-Take Availability will be available by summer.
The long-term roadmap for the products is to add automation. “It might be more desirable somtimes to boot from SAN, and other times to boot locally, but they must be in sync,” Roudebush said. “That’s the vision for sure.”
In the meantime, user Paul Hurst, network administrator for the City of Airdrie in Alberta, Canada, said he’s looking forward to replacing Double-Take’s Virtual Recovery Assistant (VRA) with Double-Take Move. “The key is more efficient migrations [between physical and virtual servers],” he said. “With VRA, you could do one move, test it, and then start all over again. With Double-Take move, I can do a test move without affecting the production box.”
EMCers are talking up their SourceOne archiving platform today, and their rivals at Symantec are doing the same. But while EMC extols the virtues of its EmailXtender replacement, Symantec is giving EmailXtender customers a come-hither look.
In an open letter to EmailXtender customers, Symantec asks: Why go with a version 1 product lacking integrated SharePoint and file archiving support when you can switch to an established product?
The letter promises EMC customers an quick and easy migration to Symantec Enterprise Vault. Enterprise Vault senior product manager Dave Campbell says migration services are available for customers of any archiving product, but obviously EmailXtender users are in the bull’s eye of the target.
“We want to present a turnkey package for migrating from EmailXtender, Zantaz, whatever,” Campbell said. “If you have 2,000 to 5,000 users with two or three years of data in archives, you’re a good candidate for migration services. We’re getting multiple requests each week from customers looking to migrate off legacy systems, and more of those requests are from EmailXtender customers than usual.”
The migration services include a system Healtcheck to identify best practices as well as potential failures and errors, and an architectural assessment to understand what is archived and insure a proper chain of custody for archived data. Campbell says most of the migration can be done remotely by Symantec Global Services.
The migration services are not free, however, and Symantec isn’t promising discounts to get EMC customers to switch. Campbell says the pricing depends on how much information is in the legacy archive.
Bottom line: Symantec is trying to get at SourceOne in the crib before it gets a chance to grow up.
As we reported yesterday, Aptare Inc. upgraded and expanded its StorageConsole storage resource management (SRM) suite this week, adding products to manage resources in VMware virtual server and NetApp replication environments.
As a sidebar to that story, though, I also had a pretty interesting conversation with the CEO of Aptare, Rick Clark, about how business has been during the global economic crisis. The consensus among analysts in this market has been that while the need for better capacity management is real, organizations have generally not been willing to pay for it. However, Clark said Aptare has more than 300 customers, and that sales the last three quarters have been the strongest in the company’s history.
For more on this topic, check out our podcast of the interview with Clark about how the company has grown in recent months:
Rackable Systems acquired he assets of high-performance computing (HPC) systems vendor Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) for just $25 million today, coinciding with SGI’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
According to a press release put out by Rackable:
Rackable has signed an Asset Purchase Agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of SGI, and to assume certain liabilities relating to the assets, pursuant to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, under which SGI filed its petition in New York on April 1, 2009. Completion of the transaction is subject to a number of closing conditions, including the approval of the Bankruptcy Court, and other uncertainties. Subject to such conditions and uncertainties, the transaction is expected to close within approximately 60 days. It is expected that SGI’s business operations will continue during the pre-closing period. SGI’s international operations would be part of the sale, but would not be part of the bankruptcy process.
SGI sells hardware and software targeted at scientific labs and other markets where parallel processing of high volumes of files is required. It offers servers and clusters, visualization applications, and services in addition to high-volume storage clusters it calls InfiniteStorage NAS.
Rackable has yet to indicate this, but I wonder if they are acquiring SGI’s assets specifically for the clustered NAS offering. Last summer, Rackable divested itself of the clustered NAS product it had purchased with Terrascale a year earlier. At the time of the divestiture, Rackable said it would be partnering for storage rather than building it internally, and eventually partnered with NetApp.
Rackable CEO Mark Barrenechea didn’t provide too much detail during a conference call with analysts this afternoon, mainly because the deal hasn’t closed and might not be final for another two months. Barrenechea did say there was little product overlap and hinted that Rackable would keep the bulk of both vendors’ products. He didn’t address the NAS partnership with NetApp, but a Rackable spokesperson sent word that no changes in partnerships are expected.
As someone who once upon a time signed up to become a Kodak EasyShare Gallery Member (probably in order to view someone’s photos), I got an interesting message yesterday from Kodak regarding their online photo storage terms of service.
According to the notice, those who store their photos on Kodak’s online galleries will have to purchase paper prints of at least some of their photos each year to keep their data online.
The notice reads:
We wanted to make you aware that we have modified our Terms of Service: To more effectively serve our Gallery members, we have adjusted our photo-storage policy to align with storage usage.
How this affects you.
Once you begin storing photos at the Gallery, you must make the following purchases to continue such storage:
• Members with photo storage of 2 gigabytes (GB) or less must make annual minimum purchases totaling at least $4.99.
• Members with photo storage exceeding 2GB must make annual minimum purchases totaling at least $19.99.
Failure to meet this requirement may result in your photos being deleted from the Gallery.
You are currently compliant with our new policy, so no immediate action is required on your part.
Once you’ve uploaded photos, please refer to your Storage Status within the My Account page of the Gallery website to see the time frame within which you are required to make your next qualifying purchase to meet our Storage Policy requirements.**
We look forward to continuing our relationship with you.
The KODAK Gallery
Maybe it’s just me, but it was jarring to read this in the midst of the other news I’ve been immersed in, such as the proliferation of online services for sharing and storing files like photos, and the death of print media across the country. Kodak’s definitely going against the grain. Why is a company that has an online storage service trying to force its users back into dead-tree-based “file sharing” (at least part of the time)?
It’s one thing to charge for online storage if the free-upload business model becomes less than sustainable. It’s another thing to try to make people pay for unwanted paper photos when what they want to do is store digital photos. Why not just charge customers for online space? Then Kodak can make money, and customers get what they want — a way to store and share digital pictrures.
I expct this will prompt users to leave Kodak EasyShare. There are just too many online-only alternatives these days. Just like the whole point of SaaS for business applications is not having to maintain an internal infrastructure, the whole idea of online photo sharing–to me, anyway–is *not* having to find a place to display or store paper copies of photos.
I sent Kodak a few questions about this notice today, but didn’t hear back.
Drive maker Western Digital is looking to hop on to the solid-state drive bandwagon by paying $65 million for a company that has the technology.
WD today completed a cash acquisition of SiliconSystems, Inc. of Aliso Viejo, Calif., a supplier of solid-state drives for the embedded systems market. The SiliconSystems’ product portfolio includes solid-state drives with SATA, EIDE, PC Card, USB and other interfaces in 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch, and other form factors. WD plans to develop new solid-state offerings to be embedded in OEM systems with the new intellectual property.
Depending on who you talk to, SSDs could become the new tier 1 in storage over the next several years. Not everyone shares such a bullish outlook, but it’s clear to drive makers like WD and Seagate that they must have an offering in this space to compete. Forward Insights president and analyst Gregory Wong sees the acquisition as the only way for WD to develop a competitive offering at this point, noting on his blog today that WD “dabbled” in SSD technology in the early 1990’s.
“However, it appears that early experience wasn’t enough for a latecomer to catch up to the vast improvements in performance and reliability made by SSD vendors recently,” he wrote. “System-level solutions particulary on the firmware side are required to manage the increasing complexities of NAND flash with each new technology generation.”
Wall Street analyst Aaron Rakers of Stifel Nicolaus Equity Research wrote in a note to investors Monday that he expects to see the combined entities focus on positioning embedded SSDs in blade servers.