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Don Beeler, CEO, President, and Chairman, NSI Software

"Recoverability is more of an issue than speed."

NSI Software Inc. may be one of the storage networking industry's quietest success stories.

For the last three years, this 13-year-old data replication software supplier has steadily increased sales in a fiercely competitive market, against entrenched players. It's established enviable distribution deals with more than 50 resellers, including Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), which is also an erstwhile investor; Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ); and SunGard (NYSE: SDS). And it's gained "traction" with high-profile customers, including Citigroup, Pacific Life Insurance, and State Street Bank. Presently, the company boasts 4,000 customers worldwide.

Yet throughout, NSI Software, which now has roughly 200 employees (about 50 more than it did this time last year), has kept a relatively low profile compared with flashier private firms. There's no big IPO talk, no hints of moving anywhere other than straight ahead, along a carefully considered path.

CEO Donald E. Beeler Jr. has helped define this modest but determined corporate demeanor. A business administration major in college in Kentucky, Beeler later worked at GTE, Ameritech, and other phone companies, honing his hands-on engineering skills. Eventually, he and three partners cofounded NSI in 1991 as a network integration consultancy.

Poking around telecom control centers for 10 years appears to have made Beeler a focused realist, less interested in big plans than in the next practical opportunity. And so far, he sees plenty of opportunity in NSI's chosen field, namely, multisite replication and disaster recovery software priced lower than competing wares from the likes of EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). (See Top Ten Private Companies: Summer 2003, page 6.)

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