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Incipient has raised an additional $24 million in venture funding, raising its total haul to $79 million over four rounds.
All that for an intelligent storage product that has yet to ship.
"It's a complicated product and it needs a lot of testing," said Incipient senior marketing vice president Robert Infantino.
"Is anyone worth that much cash? I don't know," said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "I do know that Incipient is one of the very few independents in what is going to be an absurdly large market, the network intelligence space. If IBM continues to do well with SVC, and if EMC starts to make hay with Invista, I'd expect others to start lining up at Incipient's door. There just are not a lot of places to turn if you want to add smarts to switches right now, and in my humble opinion, making networks smart is not an 'if' but simply a 'when' and 'how.' It will certainly be interesting."
Incipient's much-anticipated storage virtualization product will be in beta soon, with general availability coming as soon as the second quarter.
Incipient says it already has "tier-one" OEMs lined up for its network storage services software, which will be embedded in intelligent storage switches from the likes of Cisco, Brocade, McData and QLogic. Incipient's Network Storage Platform (NSP) software suite inserts an abstraction layer between storage and hosts, creating a storage virtualization layer where storage services such as volume management, data protection, copy services, automated provisioning and data mobility are implemented.
The start-up's approach is perhaps most similar to EMC's new Invista product, Infantino said. Infantino said the embedded switch approach offers a number of advantages over appliances, such as easier scalability and greater performance.
While intelligent storage products have begun hitting the market, Infantino doesn't think Incipient is late to market. He called the timing "just right." In the last six months, interest among potential customers "has gone through the roof," he said, with data mobility and migration key issues for storage users.
The latest funding round was led by new investor QuestMark Partners, with participation from Wasatch Advisors. Incipient's major existing investors Globespan Capital Partners, GrandBanks Capital, Greylock, HLM Venture Partners and Sigma Partners also participated. Infantino said the new funding will carry the company to cash-flow positive.