Candera Back for Seconds

Startup looks to attach ATA disk to its controller as a secondary storage tier

January 27, 2004

3 Min Read
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After fouling off its first attempt to sell network controllers, Candera Inc. is stepping back up to the plate with another kind of offer.

The vendor has lined up an ATA appliance to work with its intelligent controllers as an option for secondary storage, such as email. Candera hopes to market the product as an easy-to-use alternative to products such as the EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) Clariion CX, at half the price.

Candera hopes it hits a homer. Since releasing its original product in September 2003, the startup lined up just four customers. One of these was Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Media, which gave Candera breathing room by purchasing a controller cluster. Unfortunately for Candera, Oprahs endorsement of a network controller isn’t quite as powerful as her book endorsements [ed. note: and "Oprah's Contoller Club" doesn't really have quite the right ring to it...].

After laying off one third of its staff (see Candera Cans SAN Hands), Candera regrouped, and management decided competing with primary storage vendors like EMC and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which typically sell their own controller/drive combinations, wasn't paying off.

“Candera originally went to the enterprise, and customers reacted by saying, ‘Who are you, why should I let you control my million-dollar Symmetrixes and Sharks?’ ” says Arun Taneja, founder of the Teneja Group. “Now they’re not asking the enterprise to put all the crown jewels in their hands. If they didn’t make that change, I think they would go south.”Candera VP of marketing and business development Steve Terlizzi hopes the new tack of adding controller to disk drive for a different market takes off. “Our long-term business is network controllers,” he says. “This is the easy way to introduce ATA without disrupting your existing environment. It gives you the ability to expand your infrastructure and the option to grow intelligence into the network.”

Analysts say the tack may help Candera get some life back into its main controller business. “This is a tactical solution that will allow Candera to get a footprint and potentially bring in other storage behind it,” says analyst Mike Fisch of The Clipper Group Inc.

The Candera appliance comes in four models ranging from 4 TBytes to 16 TBytes, with list price starting at $86,500. It includes proprietary management software and support from IBM Global Services. Terlizzi says the cost of getting the new hardware running is half as much as comparable Clariion systems, and he hopes to replace Clariion and other midrange systems connected to high-end arrays for secondary storage.

“We see them as secondary appliances between tapes and disk, used for disk-to-disk archiving and for less-than-mission-critical data,” he says.

The main value Candera brings is an alternative that acts like costlier controllers for applications that don't warrant the cost and complexity of a higher-end solution. “This is an excellent way to reengage with the market, because the market was not ready for their previous engagement,” Taneja says. “However, the market is in dire need of what Candera can do now, which is to virtualize a bunch of boxes to make it look like one. Candera pieces [together] integrated hardware and software, where Clariion is a piece of iron that someone has to put together.”— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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