EMC Makes Startup Drop Name

ClariStor renames itself ONStor after EMC threatens to sue over similarity to 'Clariion'

February 26, 2003

3 Min Read
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SAN filer startup ClariStor has had to pick a new name for a second time -- it's now called ONStor Inc. -- after EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) threatened to sue because of the similarity of "ClariStor" to "Clariion" (see ClariStor Renamed ONStor).

Ironically, in November 2002 the company changed its name from Agile Storage to ClariStor to avoid a potential trademark dispute with Agile Software Corp. Criminy, somebody get this startup into the witness protection program! (See Agile Plods Ahead and Agile Storage Becomes ClariStor.)

Shortly after ClariStor's first name change, EMC sent a cease-and-desist letter to the startup requesting it change its name because of the potential confusion with Clariion, which is EMC's midrange storage brand. EMC declined to comment for this article.

Now freshly remonikered, ONStor has also brought on a new president and CEO: Bob Miller, who previously headed Slam Dunk Networks Inc., an Internet message delivery services company. Desmond Young, the company's founder and previous president and CEO, will become chief strategy officer.

Miller says the company had no hesitation in changing its name at EMC's request. "The fact of the matter was, we didn't have a lot of brand equity in that name," Miller says. "And frankly, we're happier with the new name." ONStor, he says, connotes always-on storage. Hey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.Now that its naming travails have been sorted out -- or so ONStor hopes, anyway -- the startup is getting ready to bring its SAN/NAS appliance to market. Miller says ONStor is shooting to deliver a beta version in the third quarter and ship revenue-generating product in the fourth.

And what is ONStor's product? Think file services on a SAN, geared toward disk-based backup, and you're most of the way there. A key difference is that ONStor will not sell any storage with its SAN filer. "A very strong emphasis of ours will be to work with solution providers and systems integrators to let them build a solution around this," Miller says. "With EMC Centera or Network Appliance Inc. [Nasdaq: NTAP] NearStore, you have to buy your disk storage from them." ONStor has certified its appliance to work with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and LSI Logic Storage Systems Inc. arrays.

Other firms doing NAS gateways include: Auspex Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ASPX), MaXXan Systems Inc., NetApp, and Spinnaker Networks Inc.

ONStor's appliance will have Gigabit Ethernet ports on the front and 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel out the back, Miller says. It will run a "true heterogeneous file system," he says, meaning it allows access to the same file via either CIFS or NFS.

There's one additional detail Miller is willing to share: The appliance will run a 64-bit processor. "You need very high performance for these systems," he says. Would that be Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) Itanium chip? For now, ONStor isn't saying.But Miller certainly knows his way around a microprocessor. Prior to founding Slam Dunk Networks, he was founder and CEO of NeTpower, a now-defunct microprocessor company. Before that, he was CEO of MIPS Computer Systems, which developed one of the first 64-bit microprocessors and was subsequently acquired by Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) (NYSE: SGI).

ONStor, founded in October 2000, has 55 employees and is in good financial shape, Miller says. ONStor has received $40 million in funding to date from Foundation Capital, Mayfield Fund, and WorldView Technology Partners (see Agile Smiles With $26M Round).

Miller was recruited to ONStor by Kevin Fong, managing partner at Mayfield, also an investor in Slam Dunk Networks. "The company had reached a point where the focus had to be go-to-market," Miller says. "I've had a lot of experience in introducing products, and I was very interested in the technology."

Now the ONStor team is just crossing their fingers that the folks from OnStar Corp. don't come a-knocking with a cease-and-desist letter.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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