Attune Racks Up $14M

Picks the right opportunity emphasizing management of consolidated NAS

November 15, 2006

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

NAS management startup Attune Systems picked up new funding today to help it compete as a newcomer in a hot technology space. (See Attune Gets $14M and Top 10 Startups to Watch.)

Attune Marketing VP Dan Liddle says the 50-person startup will use the $14 million mostly to raise its profile and make enhancements to its product line before the end of the year.

After failing in its first attempt as Z-Force, Attune re-emerged in May with its Maestro File Manager appliance used to manage aggregate NAS systems. (See Attune Launches Virtualization.) Attune picked the right problem to try and solve, as NAS management has become a big pain point for storage administrators. Attune and competitors use global namespace and other features to help organizations manage files across multiple NAS devices.

Interviews with more than 150 Fortune 1000 firms by market research firm TheInfoPro (TIP) found file virtualization the most popular technology in terms of implementation plans. (See File Virtualization's Red Hot.) Rob Stevenson, TIP managing director, says this is largely because the average NAS implementation has gone from 50 Tbytes to 150 Tbytes over the last 18 months among companies surveyed.

Yet Attune was not among the file virtualization vendors mentioned in the survey, conducted between July and September, the same time Attune was getting out of the starting gate. NAS vendors EMC and Network Appliance and file virtualization pure-play Acopia led the way with startup NeoPath also getting mentions. (See Acopia Files Away $20M.)Though the field of NAS virtualization startups is small, the names involved are big ones. EMC acquired Rainfinity for the technology last year. (See EMC to Buy Rainfinity.) NetApp has an OEM deal with Brocade -- through Brocade's acquisition of NuView -- but also partners with Rainfinity, Acopia, and Attune. (See Brocade Bags NuView.) Cisco is a strategic investor of NeoPath. (See Cisco, NeoPath Make It Official.)

Attune's differentiator is its appliances are developed for Windows file servers, which should give it an edge working with CIFS files. Attune's challenge is to prove that an in-band, Windows-centric appliance can scale to handle hundreds of high I/O file servers. Liddle says it will make enhancements to improve scalability.

Liddle also says Attune can handle enterprise implementations but finds more interest among midsized companies. And with few competitors in the space, customers usually find Attune, the vendor said.

"We're going where our strength is -- in shops with a lot of Windows file servers," Liddle says. "I don't know if we're top of mind, but when they do a search, we're on the list."

Analyst Brad O'Neill of the Taneja Group says Attune's chances for success rest on how well it takes advantage of its partnership with Microsoft signed in August. (See Attune, Microsoft Partner.) He calls Attune "compelling for Windows shops. Next year will tell how well they leverage the Microsoft channel."Liddle says Attune has at least a handful of customers, with many others in evaluation.

David de Valk, formerly VP of IT and business systems at a California security company, says he evaluated Attune in his previous job and recommended his firm purchase it. De Valk says the problem was the data on the company's Windows file servers grew overtime without much thought given to managing it.

"We had an infrastructure that I took over that had just grown through numerous people that just became an IT infrastructure," he explains. "I said, 'How do we start to understand what this infrastructure is, how do we get our arms around getting it to where we could manage it?'"

He says he found Attune's infrastructure and data usage assessment offered with the appliance gave him a good window into what was on his servers. The tool showed he didn't have a lot of unwanted files, such as MP3s, on his servers, but his server load was unbalanced.

"It showed me that we had a whole lot of storage on different servers that was not being utilized," he says. "Once a week I was hearing we need to buy a new server for this application because we don't have enough storage. I saw there were some servers that don't have enough storage but others have 600 gigs available."The funding round led by RWI Ventures was Attune's second since the demise of Z-Force, bringing its total to $33 million.

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Acopia Networks Inc.

  • Attune Systems Inc.

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • NeoPath Networks

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • RWI Ventures

  • Taneja Group

  • TheInfoPro Inc. (TIP)

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights