Akara Goes Wide

Startup says its software will make it easier to send storage data over wide-area networks

August 3, 2001

2 Min Read
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Optical storage system provider Akara Inc. was a tad put off by a recent Byte and Switch poll indicating that most companies don't intend to send storage traffic over wide-area networks, or WANs (see Storage Over WANs: No Plans).

Small wonder, given that its recently launched business depends on this trend taking off.

In less than three weeks' time, Akara will release an optical services device that it says enables service providers to deliver remote storage over optical networks. It connects to Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet networks on the enterprise side, and Sonet/SDH on the carrier side.

In general we would concur with the Byte and Switch poll,” says Solomon Wong, executive VP and CTO at Akara. “There are several things limiting the delivery of storage over wide-area networks today.”

Wong says enterprise businesses are concerned about both a lack of security and the operational issues involved in transmitting storage traffic over long distances. There are also latency issues that can crop up when storage protocols such as ESCON are stretched over long distances. Plus, enterprises are not used to buying storage as a service yet.“There’s an acceptance curve to get over," Wong says. “Given all these points, many companies decide not to bother.”

Akara says it has done several things to try and address these problems with its optical services software. On the security side, it looks for “poison pill” sequences of code designed to disrupt traffic, and stops these from getting through. It also separates user traffic by using time stamps to isolate and contain it according to the time it leaves the system. Anyone accessing the data will need the requisite time tag to view it. (The process is also used to guarantee the traffic’s arrival.)

On the customer front, Akara expects storage service provider StorageNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: STOR) and optical service provider GiantLoop Network Inc. to each deploy the product for storage backup services.

Akara has recently received $30 million in a second round of funding from VCs. Participating companies included Dain Rauscher Wessels, Morgan Keegan & Company Inc., and Presidio Venture Partners.

Akara faces some stiff competition from companies like Entrada Networks (Nasdaq: ESAN), ADVA AG Optical Networking (Neuer Markt: ADV)(see ADVA AG), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), all of which plan to deliver storage over wide-area networks.— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch http://www.byteandswitch.com

Movers and shakers from more than 100 companies – including several mentioned in this story – will be speaking at StorageNet, Byte and Switch’s annual conference, being held in New York City, October 2-5, 2001. Check it outat StorageNet2001

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