Storage Soup

April 18, 2018  10:20 AM

Storage sales make IBM blue

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
IBM Storage

After four straight quarters of growth, IBM storage hardware revenue crashed in the first quarter of 2018. IBM reported a 15% decline in storage hardware revenue, a drop that dragged the entire company’s overall revenue to fall short of expectations.

That fall comes after a year of gains for IBM systems storage under storage general manager Ed Walsh, who took over in June 2016 following more than four years of continued losses.

On IBM’s earnings call Tuesday night, CFO Jim Kavanaugh blamed the storage turnaround on increased competition, pricing pressures and “some sales execution challenges.” He did say he expects a strong IBM storage product portfolio and new launches in late 2018 to fuel a rebound.

And Kavanaugh emphasized the declines were only on the IBM storage hardware side. He said IBM’s software-defined and cloud object storage revenue increased, but those are attributed to other IBM segments.

Kavanaugh described the storage market as “aggressive,” but said he has confidence in the IBM storage team.

“We were disappointed in our storage performance and it contributed to a modest shortfall to our own expectations of IBM’s revenue growth in the quarter,” Kavanaugh said.

“But I’ll tell you we have a great team with a proven track record. This is the same team that has proven that they’ve revitalized the portfolio in the past, took market share for four consecutive quarters. We have all the confidence in the world that we can get our storage business back to where it needs to be as we move forward in the second half of 2018.”

IBM attributed its 2017 rebound to surges in flash and cloud storage. According to IT research firm IDC, IBM gained share in external (networked) storage in every quarter of 2017. For the full year, IBM increased its revenue to $2.184 billion from $2.073 billion in 2016 while the overall external storage systems market was flat. IBM increased its share from 9% in 2016 to 9.6% in 2017. But unless the overall storage market tanked, IBM dropped share in the first quarter of 2018.

April 17, 2018  8:08 AM

Scality Rings up $60 million funding round

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

With a fresh $60 million in funding, Scality CEO Jerome Lecat said he expects the object storage vendor to become profitable within two years.

Scality, which launched its Ring object storage in 2010 and added a distributed file system five years later, has now raised $152 million over five funding rounds.  Its previous largest round before today brought in $57 million in August of 2015.

The vendor relies largely on partnerships with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco to drive sales, so Lecat said most of the new funding will go into product development. Lecat said the new Zenko multi-cloud management software will be a main focus but he expects more product launches in 2018.

“We intend to show we can run a profit,” Lecat said. “We intend to be a break-even profitable company by 2020. From there, who knows where we go? We can raise more money and make acquisitions, but that’s not a decision I’ll make now. Sixty million dollars is a lot of money, and our goal is to strengthen our product strategy.”

Scality, which has more than 200 employees, finished 2017 with nearly 90 people on its engineering team. Lecat said that number will grow  with the funding.

The 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage lists Scalilty as a leader, along with Dell EMC and IBM.

Zenko, based on open-source software, stores data and applications under one interface regardless of whether they reside on-premises or in clouds.  Scality uses the Amazon S3 API that works with RING or other back-end cloud storage. Scality released Zenko code to the open source community in 2017 and is preparing to make a commercially supported version available in 2018. Zenko can complement Scality Ring or run as a standalone product.

Lecat said he expects Zenko to go GA within a few months. By then, he expects beta customer Bloomberg Media to put Zenko in production.

Multi-cloud management is important for Scality, whose customers include service providers and organizations with large data stores. Lecat said the average Scality Ring implementation is for 4 PB of data, often spread across clouds.

“The future of enterprise IT and storage is multi-cloud,” he said. “What we mean by multi-cloud is large enterprises will continue to operate some storage by themselves in a private cloud and also leverage several public cloud services. A few years ago, people said everything would go in Amazon, but we’re not seeing that trend. We see people also want [Microsoft] Azure, Google and possibly other public clouds.”

As a private company, Scality does not disclose revenue but Lecat said the vendor added 51 enterprise customers in 2017. He put its total customer count at more than 200.

Nearly 80% of Scality’s sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 came through partners. HPE sells Scalable Object Storage with Scality Ring and Cisco sells UCS Storage Server with Scality Ring.

The funding round included new investor Harbert European Growth Capital, with previous Scality investors Menlo Ventures, Iris Capital, Idinvest Partners and Galileo Partners participating.

April 12, 2018  10:02 AM

OwnBackup lands $15.5M to fund further SaaS backup

Paul Crocetti Paul Crocetti Profile: Paul Crocetti

OwnBackup closed its largest funding round to date and will use it to propel product work and double employee headcount, the cloud-to-cloud backup and restore vendor said today.

The $15.5 million round of financing brings OwnBackup’s funding total up to $26 million. New investor Vertex Ventures and existing investor Insight Venture Partners led the funding round. Existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Oryzn Capital and Salesforce Ventures also participated.

OwnBackup provides backup for software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms Salesforce, ServiceNow and Slack, where data is created in the cloud. The startup has focused on its Salesforce backup, reporting that it backs up 3 trillion records, which translates to about 8 PB of data.

“OwnBackup is an independent application,” said Bridget Piraino, executive vice president of marketing. “In the case of a rare outage of your SaaS vendor, you can always access the OwnBackup application and your data.”

SaaS platforms do not necessarily provide the comprehensive backup and recovery that many organizations need, for example in the case of user error.

“Data protection, especially with regulations such as GDPR, has really come to the forefront,” Piraino said.

Moving Own up

OwnBackup opened a London sales office to go with its research and development office in Tel Aviv, Israel, and its headquarters in Fort Lee, N.J.

The company has about 60 employees and Piraino said it is on track to increase that to 120 by the end of 2018. She said the additions will come in research and development as well as sales and marketing.

The funding will help OwnBackup further deepen its investment in Salesforce protection. Since its last round of $7.5 million in July 2017, the company has added strategic partnerships with Sage and Veeva, and plans to add more.

OwnBackup’s technology is built on the Salesforce Platform. “We have a real commitment to working in their ecosystem,” Piraino said.

Other vendors that provide Salesforce protection include Datto Backupify, Spanning, Asigra and Druva. Insight Venture Partners, which has a significant backup portfolio, acquired Spanning from Dell EMC in April 2017.

OwnBackup, founded in 2015, secured its first funding round in 2016. OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann said last year that the company’s support will likely extend into Microsoft services. He did not provide specifics, but Office 365 is a popular SaaS application that other cloud-to-cloud backup vendors protect.

No data babysitting required

OwnBackup has about 600 customers, most of them using the Salesforce protection. It serves mainly mid-sized companies and large enterprises.

Renovo Financial, a private lender for real estate investors, has used OwnBackup for Salesforce daily data backups for about one year. Salesforce contains all of the company’s lending information, including loan level data and borrower data, said Josh Perrye, a finance associate at Renovo, which is based in Chicago.

“Without any work or checking in, I know that all data is backed up at 3 a.m. every night,” Perrye wrote in an email. “We get an alert if anything needs attention, but it rarely does. Not having to babysit our data gives me the freedom to work on other high value tasks.”

Perrye said the “compare” tools for finding lost data are intuitive and easy to understand.

“Trying to figure out what went wrong in the past was near impossible,” Perrye wrote. “Now, we can essentially run the exact same report at two points in time and hold them side by side to see what changed, when it changed and, if needed, restore to the previous version in just minutes.”

April 5, 2018  1:35 PM

IDC: Dell No. 1 in CI, HCI revenue

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Dell won the trifecta in the latest IDC Quarterly Converged Tracker report.

Dell Technologies-owned technology led market share across the board in converged and hyper-converged systems, according to IDC’s fourth-quarter numbers. IDC shows Dell EMC leading the market in converged and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) revenue, and Dell subsidiary VMware was No. 1 in IDC’s new breakout of software-driven HCI sales.

The overall sales trend continues to swing towards HCI, which grew 69.4% year-over-year to $1.25 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 according to IDC. Converged Infrastructure – including reference architectures and integrated systems – declined 3.4% year-over-year to $1.7 billion.

The combined converged and hyper-converged markets came in over $12.5 billion for all of 2017, according to IDC. That’s a 9.4% increase over 2016.

IDC looks at fourth-quarter HCI revenue in two ways: by brand of the appliance and by the owner of the software. Either way, the total revenue comes out to $1.25 billion but the software-based table credits the revenue of a sale to the vendor that supplies the software.

HCI revenue is dominated by Dell EMC/VMware and Nutanix. Dell and Nutanix combine for more than 47% of the HCI branded market and 70% of the software-based HCI revenue.

Dell was ahead of Nutanix in HCI share in branded systems for the third straight quarter. Dell branded HCI revenue of $347 million in the quarter grew 138% from the previous year and its market share jumped from 19.8% to 27.8%. Nutanix branded HCI revenue grew 51% to $243 million, but its market share slipped from 21.9% to 19.5%.

VMware’s $405 million led the HCI software-based revenue charts, representing an 111% jump and 32.4% share. Nutanix placed second with $369 million for 29.5% share. Nutanix software revenue increased 59%.

Although IDC did not publish the software-driven HCI numbers in previous trackers, its report this week shows Nutanix led in software-driven HCI sales a year ago at 31.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016. VMware was second at 26% a year ago.

Designating HCI revenue based on software allows IDC to recognize VMware, which does not sell branded systems. VMware sells its vSAN software in partnerships with most server vendors, however.

The software-driven HCI list also provides a better view of sales of Nutanix software. Nutanix sells branded appliances, but also sells its software through partnerships with leading server vendors. Nutanix partners include Dell, which packages Nutanix software on Dell EMC XC appliances. IDC credits Dell EMC XC sales to Dell on the branded side and Nutanix on the software list.

Dell, which also sells HCI systems running vSAN and Dell EMC ScaleIO software, placed third in HCI based on software at $96.5 million for 7.7% share.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco are the fastest growing HCI players. HPE sales increased 340% year-over-year to $62 million in branded HCI products, largely because of its early 2017 acquisition of early HCI player SimpliVity. HPE increased its share from 1.9% to 4.9% in the course of the year. Cisco increased HCI revenue 200% to $56.3 million, and jumped its share from 2.5% to 4.5%.

Dell’s Converged Infrastructure lead slips

Dell led the certified reference architecture and integrated infrastructure market with $735 million but lost share to its closest rivals. Dell’s revenue fell 14.5% year-over-year. Cisco/NetApp converged revenue grew 16% to $566 million and its market share increased from 27.4% a year ago to 33% in the fourth quarter of 2017. HPE revenue increased 4% to $289 million and its market share grew from 15.7% to 16.9%.

IDC defines certified reference systems & integrated infrastructure as “pre-integrated, vendor-certified systems containing server hardware, disk storage systems, networking equipment, and basic element/systems management software.”

April 2, 2018  2:13 PM

Large investor Elliott challenges Commvault management

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Investors cheered hedge fund Elliott Management’s disclosed stake in Commvault today, which will likely lead to a shakeup of the data management vendor’s management team and board.

Elliott, citing the need for fundamental changes at Commvault, published a letter to the company’s directors outlining proposed steps going forward. After crediting Commvault CEO Bob Hammer and COO Al Bunte for building the company from a startup to a market leader, the letter bluntly criticized Commvault’s performance over the past five years.

Elliott wants a complete review of Commvault’s management. Its letter called for four new directors to replace the four due for nomination this year. Those include Hammer, 75, who is chairman as well as CEO.

“Unfortunately, Commvault has not been a success story as a public-company investment,” stated the letter, signed by Elliott partner Jesse Cohn and portfolio manager Jason Genrich.

Elliott Management, often referred to as an activist investor, has imposed its will on companies much larger than Commvault. In October of 2014, Elliott – roughly a two percent shareholder in EMC – called for the storage giant to break up or explore a merger with another company. Almost a year to the day later, Dell said it would acquire EMC for more than $60 billion. BMC Software, Compuware and Riverbed were also sold after receiving letters from Elliot urging action.

Elliott isn’t urging a sale of Commvault but it wants changes made. Elliott Management holds 10.3% of Commvault stock, making it one of the vendor’s largest shareholders. Commvault’s stock price rose more than 10% today after disclosure of Elliott’s involvement, which can only put more pressure on leadership to take Elliot seriously.

Commvault released a statement saying its management team has already spoken with Elliott.

“Commvault conducts open communications with its stockholders, and the board of directors and management team values their input,” the statement said. “Commvault has had initial discussions with Elliott and we go into these discussions with an open mind, a goal of enhancing stockholder value, and optimistic for Commvault’s future.”

Cohn, at the time a portfolio manager, signed Elliott’s 2014 letter to EMC.

“We want to make clear that we have great respect for what Bob and Al have built over the last two decades,” Cohn and Genrich wrote in their letter to Commvault management. “The value creation opportunity present at Commvault today would not be possible without their leadership.”

However, Cohn and Genrich were highly critical of Commvault management over the past five years.

They said Elliott Management has expertise in the backup market and has studied Commvault for several years. They also said Elliott surveyed hundreds of IT decision makers and retained senior decision makers in enterprise software and broader technology markets as advisers.

The letter said the research “confirmed our view that Commvault’s product quality and feature set are unmatched in the industry.” However, “over the last five years, Commvault has been challenged by several of the most important technology trends in the market (including appliances, virtualization and hyper-converged). … While Commvault eventually released competitive products in response, these releases were generally too late.”

Commvault in late 2017 shipped its first integrated appliance, apparently in response to successful products from newcomers Cohesity and Rubrik. Commvault also lost share to Veeam Software, which concentrates on data protection for virtual machines.

Elliott criticized Commvault for an underperforming stock price, as well as declining operating margins, stalled revenue growth, poor profitability and operational inefficiency. It blamed Commvault’s low stock price on “a lack of credibility with investors.”

The letter said the board has “experienced an absence of accountability” and “would benefit from fresh perspectives, primarily in operational execution, software go-to-market experience and current (emphasis theirs) technology expertise.” It points out nine of Commvault’s 11 directors have been on the board for more than 10 years with six serving for more than 15 years. Elliott also criticized Commvault management for lack of diversity, because it has only one woman director, YY Lee, who was appointed earlier this year.

Elliott proposed two women for the board, Martha Bejar and Wendy Lane. Bejar has been CEO of three tech companies. Lane has served on the board of eight public companies, and is a former investment banker. The other proposed directors are Fidelis Cybersecurity CEO John McCormack and former Skillsoft CEO Chuck Moran.

“The skills and focus Commvault requires over the next five years must be profoundly different than those evidenced over the previous five,” Elliott’s letter said.

Elliott called for a comprehensive operational review of Commvault by a third-party consulting firm, concluding “there is substantial work to be done to transform Commvault.”

“We strongly believe that Elliott and Commvault can work together collaboratively to implement these recommendations and we are eager to sit down in person to discuss the path forward,” Elliott said at the end of the letter. “Please let us know when we can meet to discuss next steps or if you have any questions.”

April 2, 2018  11:37 AM

Zerto replication backs IBM Resiliency Orchestration

Paul Crocetti Paul Crocetti Profile: Paul Crocetti
DRaaS, IBM, Zerto

IBM has enlisted Zerto as the muscle behind physical and virtual data protection.

The Zerto replication engine is powering IBM’s Resiliency Orchestration disaster recovery as a service. IBM’s Resiliency Orchestration DRaaS recovers virtual and physical workloads running on IBM mainframe, IBM Power AIX, IBM System I, Oracle Solaris and HP-UX.

Mehran Hadipour, director of global business development at Zerto, said the IBM-Zerto collaboration was sparked by a customer who was looking to replicate virtual and physical workloads.

“IBM can protect from mainframe to virtual workloads,” Hadipour said.

IBM Resiliency Orchestration with Zerto provides disaster recovery, data protection and data workload mobility, on premises or across cloud platforms.

Hadipour said the target customer for the IBM DRaaS wants a completely managed disaster recovery product for the whole data center, including physical and virtual workloads. That’s likely an enterprise with a large infrastructure.

There are few options for that kind of protection, Hadipour said.

Veeam Software, which originally focused just on virtual backup and recovery, recently added support for physical protection.

The IBM Resiliency Orchestration with Zerto replication has its roots in IBM’s 2016 acquisition of Sanovi Technologies, Hadipour said. Sanovi provided business continuity and disaster recovery for workloads across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. IBM integrated Sanovi’s technologies into its resiliency services.

IBM Resiliency Orchestration is available on premises, in the IBM Cloud and through IBM resiliency data centers.  It can include Zerto’s replication technology, the complete VMware stack and end-to-end IBM managed services, in one dashboard, according to Zerto.

The product with Zerto replication is available now, sold through IBM, as both software and a managed service.

Zerto has collaborated with IBM before. For example, in 2016, Zerto announced its flagship Virtual Replication product can protect workloads running on the IBM Cloud.

March 30, 2018  10:18 AM

Gluster 4.0 updated for containers, cloud

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
Gluster, Open source storage, Red Hat Storage

The first major release of the open source Gluster distributed file system software since December 2009 takes aim at container integration and storage management improvements for hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

The Gluster development community rewrote the management engine for the new Gluster 4.0 release with the goals of boosting scalability and making the open source storage software easier to use, according to Amye Scavarda, the Gluster community lead at Red Hat.

“The last time that we did this, around 3.0, was a long time ago, and the world was a lot different then. Gluster and containers were not even something we thought of together,” Scavarda said. “So, we’ve worked on being able to replace some of the architecture around it to be able to have a more complete service-oriented architecture.”

New GlusterD2 management engine
The GlusterD2 (GD2) distributed management engine, which is available as a technical preview, exposes functionality through a set of REST-based application programming interfaces (APIs). GD2 includes a new command line interface (CLI) on top of the REST API for volume and membership operations. It also includes a flexible plugin framework for developers to add metrics.

The Gluster 4.0 release also deepens connections with the Kubernetes container orchestration framework through its integration with the open source Heketi provisioning tool, which downloads with the Gluster file system (GlusterFS) software.

The latest version of Heketi supports provisioning and expanding Gluster-block backed persistent volumes, custom volume names for persistent volumes, and metrics collection for Gluster volumes using the separately downloadable open source Prometheus tool.

“Heketi is a dynamic provisioner. It’s basically a way to be able to say, ‘Hey, I want to be able to create a volume. I want to be able to specify the size, the replication factor, and I don’t want to have to think about how Gluster needs that. I want to be able to just give it what I need and have Heketi go in and work with Gluster for that directly,” she said.

Prior Gluster versions used Heketi, but the new Gluster 4.0 major release now connects it with the new GlusterD2 management engine,  Scavarda said. She said the Gluster community has worked on improving container integration for the past three or four years, with a special focus on persistent storage and the integration with Kubernetes. She said Gluster users would now have a better way to expand volumes and replace disks and nodes.

Gluster focus on cloud use
“We’re really trying to think about the ways that people are using Gluster in the cloud,” Scavarda said. “They need to be able to actually use a system that already has storage and expand from there.”

Scavarda said that in addition to Kubernetes, Gluster also pairs well with Red Hat’s OpenShift container application platform. GlusterFS can be provisioned as the storage for a container environment, and the software can also run within a container.

New capabilities on the roadmap for future Gluster community releases include GlusterD2 management engine improvements and a graphical user interface, since many developers who write container-based applications are not storage experts, Scavarda confirmed.

Prominent users of the open source Gluster community software include cloud hosting and media companies, many of which like to test out the file system try the new features, according to Scavarda.

She could give no specific date when the commercially supported Red Hat Gluster Storage product would add the new Gluster 4.0 features. She said the capabilities in community releases tend to reach the supported product at least three to six month later.

March 28, 2018  8:10 AM

HYCU software becomes independent company

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Nine months ago, Comtrade Software launched HYCU software designed specifically to back up Nutanix hyper-converged systems. Now Comtrade Software has become HYCU.

Comtrade Software today officially rebranded as HYCU (haiku), a company dedicated to developing and selling HYCU Data Protection for Nutanix. Simon Taylor, previously Comtrade Software’s president, becomes HYCU CEO. Comtrade Group isn’t completely cutting the cord. The IT company with more than $400 million in annual revenue remains the majority owner of HYCU. But Taylor said Boston-based HYCU will be “operationally independent” with more than 300 employees including engineers in Europe.

Along with the rebranding, HYCU added new hires Scott Henderson as Sales VP of the Americas, Junelle Swan as VP of Channel and Paul Nashawaty as chief evangelist. HYCU has its own board.

With the rebranding, HYCU is literally betting the house on data protection for Nutanix. Taylor said HYCU has around 100 customers worldwide.

“Nutanix’s growth has been so exceptional,” Taylor said of Nutanix’s 44% year-over-year revenue growth last quarter. “We see them as people saw VMware 10 years ago. They’ve established themselves as an independent platform that becomes a pivotal thing for the way the rest of the data center runs. We want to scale alongside and in addition to Nutanix’s growth.”

Taylor compared HYCU’s role in protecting data on Nutanix to Veeam Software’s data protection for VMware and Commvault’s focus on Microsoft Windows protection. Those relationships helped Veeam and Commvault grow into successful data protection vendors.

HYCU’s devotion to Nutanix is not lost on the HCI pioneer. Venugopal Pai, Nutanix’s VP of alliances and business development, said while there are many other backup options for Nutanix, HYCU software is the only data protection developed specifically for his company.

“They bet on Nutanix early on and built a product around our platform,” Pai said. “Now they can build a company around HYCU the product.

“We thank them for doubling down on Nutanix. They understand the work we’ve done on storage management with our APIs and they built a user interface similar to ours. They started with a clean sheet of paper and truly built a product around Nutanix.”

Still, the competition is fierce for HYCU. Most major data protection vendors support Nutanix, and at least 10 already back up Nutanix’s home-grown AHV hypervisor. Those supporting AHV include Veeam and Commvault, plus backup software giant Veritas and rapidly emerging players Cohesity and Rubrik.

Taylor said he realizes HYCU must stay ahead of the competition for protecting data on Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure to succeed. “We will always be first to market with support for Nutanix features and functions,” he promised. “When Nutanix comes out with something new and exciting, HYCU will make those investments right away.”

Taylor said the features that make HYCU software stand out for Nutanix included agent-less backup, its ability to deliver VM-stun free ESX backups on Nutanix, its support of Nutanix AFS (Acropolis File Services) and its availability on Nutanix Calm.

HYCU taps into Nutanix’s built-in data protection features such as deduplication, snapshots, replication and cloning rather than build its own.

“Nutanix built dedupe and snapshot capabilities, why make the customer pay for them again?” he said.

HYCU software pricing starts at $1,500 per socket, with subscription-based per VM options available. Subscription pricing includes $75 per socket per month, and $10 per VM per month for enterprises and $5 per VM per month for service providers.

March 21, 2018  11:12 AM

Symbolic IO becomes Formulus Black

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Symbolic IO has changed its name as part of “complete rebranding” months after its founder was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

Symbolic IO is now called Formulus Black. The company made no formal announcement, but the old Symbolic IO web site redirects you to LinkedIn lists several former Symobilic IO employees as now working for Formulus Black. That list includes Carr Bettis, who became Symbolic io’s executive chairman last August and is now Formulus Black chairman and CEO. Rob Peglar, formerly Symbolic IO CTO, is also working for Formulus Black in a similar role but as a consultant.

“Formulus Black is a complete rebranding, including new management,” Peglar wrote in an email in response to the new name. “Big win for everyone involved. I am no longer an employee (by choice) but am consulting back to them, as well as another company.”

Symbolic IO Corp. filed a trademark registration for the name Formulus Black in January, five months after the arrest of Symbolic IO founder and CEO Brian Ignomirello in New Jersey in connection with an alleged physical attack of his girlfriend. Thomas Cowan became interim CEO of the Holmdel, N.J.-based company in August at the same time Bettis came in. Cowan is not part of Formulus Black.

Symbolic IO came out of stealth in May 2016 with a “computational-defined” IRIS storage system, which it claimed can shrink data stored in RAM by changing the way it processes binary bits.

The bare-bones Formulus Black site identifies the vendor as providing “Software for greater computing.” It describes its technology as: “Next-gen persistent in-memory computing, without peripherals or application changes.”

Besides a brief description of the technology, the site has a leadership page listing Bettis, chief architect Steve Sicola and senior chief technology officer fellow Peglar.

March 16, 2018  9:04 AM

Ctera Networks CEO: enterprise subscriptions spiking

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa

Ctera Networks claimed subscription revenue for its enterprise file services platform more than doubled in fiscal 2017, pushing the company to record results for the year.

As a private company, Ctera Networks does not publicly disclose revenue. But CEO and co-founder Liran Eshel said the company boosted its direct customer total by about 30% to roughly 200. New additions included the McDonald’s fast-food chain, J. Walter Thompson marketing agency, and Henry Schein medical, dental and veterinary supply distributor.

Eshel said Ctera Networks focused on customers that care about security, and the top vertical industries in its customer base are financial services and government agencies. The U.S. Department of Defense expanded its deployments of Ctera’s products during the past year, connecting users and bases to highly secure private cloud-based object storage, he said.

Cloud partners running services based on Ctera’s products potentially have thousands of small and medium-sized business customers that indirectly use the company’s software, according to Eshel. He said Ctera Networks has scored “serious wins” with major cloud service providers such as Telefonica, Orange, Swisscom, Telecom Italia and Bezeq.

Ctera’s progress during the past year extended to the partnership front, where Eshel said the company grew business with Dell EMC and Amazon Web Services and struck reselling agreements with IBM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Eshel claimed he’s seen a significant uptick in the past few months with IBM and HPE. He said Ctera is on IBM’s price book through the vendor’s Passport Advantage program and is part of the HPE Complete Program, which offers a validated HPE and Ctera system with a single support contract.

CEO touts ‘edge to cloud’

The major new industry trend that Eshel noted for this year is “edge to cloud,” driven by machine-generated data and internet of things (IoT). He said many customers want to connect remote branches and IoT devices that produce content to their cloud or multi-cloud environments. He cited examples such as media agencies with large video files, health care organizations with images and transportation companies with telemetric data.

“Latency, distance and security all create challenges [in] ingesting, analyzing and moving the data from edge to cloud,” Eshel said.

He said Ctera had to add more caching and automatic tiering capabilities to address those needs. He said the company has an artificial intelligence-powered decision engine to determine which data stays at the edge and which goes to the cloud. Other technologies that help to address the edge-to-cloud needs include data compression and encryption, he said.

Ctera Networks offers two options for customers to get data from the edge. Eshel said they can run Ctera software on the host, or edge device, for “mounting the cloud” to the PC or volume. The second option is a server-based edge filer, or gateway appliance, which can steer everything the customer puts on it to the cloud, he said.

“When you have high latency, a large amount of data generation at the edge and multiple users of the site, the bridging devices – the edge filer, the gateway device – is the better approach because it accumulates all the data from all of the clients in the edge location. And it’s a shared local storage cache,” Eshel said. “When you have lower amounts of data and roaming users in multiple [locations], then the host-based solution is better.”

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