You've all heard the old joke: You can identify pioneers because they're the ones with the arrows in their back. That joke isn't funny for bankrupt storage vendor Ciprico of St. Louis Park, Minn., which has learned that developing a new technology before the time is right can be an expensive and painful experience.
Ciprico, which offers a variety of storage hardware, software, and virtualization products, has been in business for around 30 years. In 2003 it brought out an innovative software product called RAIDCore that was meant to move RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) off its own card, with its own CPU and memory, and to use the power of the main CPU in a server or workstation to handle the RAID processes.
But the cost-saving product didn't materialize as expected. "The problem is it ate up too much of the processing power of the server CPU," says Ciprico CEO Steven Merrifield. "Today, of course, with high-speed front ends and dual-core, quad-core, and 8-way processors, this approach can perform much better and be much more cost-effective."
The advances in multi-core chips didn't come soon enough for Ciprico, however, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis on July 28. It listed assets of $6.9 million and debts of $7.8 million. The company has about 45 employees.
"We weren't able to raise money, and we lost the race and ran out of money before we were able to get the new version of the product to market," says Merrifield, who joined the company in December 2006. "It is a great piece of code, and where the market is headed. Software RAID is more relevant today."