8 Hot Storage Startups to Watch


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While far from the glory days of a decade or so back, there is a healthy abundance of storage startups around today. Though hardly a comprehensive list, here are some interesting candidates for which cloud computing, solid state drives (SSDs), big data and VMware-based virtualization is providing the basis of much of the underlying innovation.

1. Sanbolic

Sanbolic has been flying under the radar for about 10 years and just came out of stealth as an innovator in distributed data management. Its Melio version 3.5 addresses storage management and performance challenges encountered in virtualized application environments. It integrates complex storage concepts, including clustered file system and volume management, rapid resource provisioning, and quality of service (QoS) into a workload and storage agnostic offering.

"Customers benefit from increased levels of infrastructure flexibility and responsiveness, while minimizing storage related cost and complexity," said Momchil "Memo" Michailov, Co-Founder and CEO, Sanbolic. "Unpredictable application requirements are exposing the limitations of current storage topologies. The launch of Melio v3.5 enables a more application-aware, available and scalable shared storage architecture."

Analyst Terri McClure with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) is a fan.

"While virtualization has delivered clear benefits to enterprise IT departments in terms of consolidation and efficiency, it has actually created more problems than it solved on the storage side of the equation," she said. "Sanbolic has been addressing this problem for years, with strong enterprise validation to show for it. Melio v3.5 builds off this momentum, adding an increased level of application and data awareness for an existing infrastructure, while minimizing storage related cost and complexity."

Pricing starts at $999 (for Melio Private Cloud).

2. Scality

Scality's RING Organic Storage targets the issue of how cloud service and email providers store unstructured data such as webmail, photo, video/file sharing and backup. It is object-based and scales to exabytes using x86 commodity server hardware with direct attached storage (DAS). Its organic design creates a system with distributed intelligence that has no single point of failure. As a result, RING Organic Storage can be deployed for a few cents per GB per month.

Scality has already garnered analyst plaudits.

"Solutions like Scality's organic storage and RING storage software will make it possible for organizations with large and fast growing rich content and unstructured data pools to adopt a lower cost and non-disruptive approach to deploying and expanding their storage assets," said Richard Villars of IDC.

"Scality views each instance of an x86 server and its DAS as a cell," said David Hill, an analyst with Mesabi Group. "The cells are connected together by a meshed network topology, typically with Gigabit Ethernet."

The software provides the intelligence to manage RING-attached assets and fulfill user requests. Each cell has an address, and there can be many thousands of them in a Scality RING. Queries take no more than 14 milliseconds.

"Scality claims its five-year TCO calculations show its solution costs a little over a third of a comparable SAN or NAS solution," said Hill. "Scality also says that RING solutions cost only half as much as similarly featured long-term storage solutions by existing cloud suppliers."

3. SolidFire

SolidFire has an all-SSD appliance it is selling to cloud providers. Founded by David Wright, who founded the online storage and backup service Jungle Disk (which Rackspace acquired in 2008) as well, the company has also picked up quite a few former Lefthand Networks employees. SolidFire just launched a few days ago and recently raised $11-million in venture funding from NEA, Valhalla Partners and Novak Biddle.

Built around a scale-out multi-tenant architecture, SolidFire delivers high-performance and high-efficiency primary storage systems for cloud service providers. One SSD system can achieve more than 1PB of capacity and provide more than 5 million IOPS. SolidFire's Element operating system enables storage volume performance to be prescribed and guaranteed. The system also leverages inline deduplication, compression and thin-provisioning technologies that operate in real-time. SolidFire's REST-based API management offers cloud providers to automate storage deployment, management and reporting.

4. cloudTP

Cloud Technology Partners (cloudTP) deals with the migration of business processes, applications and data to private, public or hybrid clouds. The company's co-founder and CEO, Chris Greendale, started systems integrator Cambridge Technology Partners in the 1990s. He brought several alumni from that firm into cloudTP.

"cloudTP acts as a CIO's trusted advisor, helping clients make the right cloud choices to gain competitive advantage," said Greendale.

The company is vendor neutral, but possesses intellectual property in terms of software and tools to facilitate cloud planning and migration. This includes an Application Profiling and Effort Estimation Kit and a SaaS Portfolio Analysis Road Map. Investors include State Street and Greylock Partners.

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