Candera Unveils Controller

Now we know what Candera's been working on, but still not what it'll cost. Will customers bite?

July 4, 2003

3 Min Read
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Startup Candera Inc. finally let the cat out of the bag this week (see Candera Finally Talks).

After keeping its work secret for the past two years, the vendor disclosed that it's developing a network storage virtualization controller, which it promises will boost the IQ of a typical dim-witted SAN.

The new U*Star controller is currently in beta testing and set to ship later this summer. It consists of a specialized hardware appliance running Canderas proprietary software.The appliance works as a node in a Fibre Channel network, controlling I/O activity and allowing companies to virtualize their storage resources. By tying together different storage devices and servers, regardless of vendor and operating system, and managing them as a single unit, the company says it can boost storage utilization, improve manageability, and automate the provisioning process (see Virtual Reality?).

The idea is to view the SAN more as a layered network, says Candera CEO Sundi Sundaresh. “We’re believers that the SAN will evolve the way other networks have evolved.”

The Milpitas, Calif.-based company has 24 patents pending for its proprietary technology, Sundaresh says. “This needs to be very robust -- so it can’t run on off-the-shelf stuff.”Candera's technique gives the controller both policy automation and so-called rich characterization capabilities, which enable it to identify and classify each SAN device by its capabilities. This adds intelligence to the way storage profiles are set up and SANs are managed, the company says.

Most importantly, perhaps, the company claims its appliance works with nearly every storage device and server on the market. Candera says it has used a significant chunk of the $47 million in funding it has raised to date from investors like Redpoint Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) to develop a multimillion-dollar interoperability lab (see Candera Gets Interoperable). Candera claims the U*Star appliance interoperates with the following devices, among others:

“They have a very, very extensive qualification list,” Enterprise Storage Group Inc. analyst Tony Prigmore says, adding that Candera's purpose-built architecture approach makes it fairly unique. “Nobody at this point has done a similar type of thing.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean the company won’t face plenty of competition from more established players offering virtualization software and devices, including FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC), HP, and IBM (see IBM Plays With Self (Virtually), HP Opens Doors to CASA, and StorageTek Couples With FalconStor). “They’re going to have to work just as hard as every other startup in the business to have customers see that the benefits offered by their product outweigh the fact that they’re a startup,” Prigmore says. “In the end, it comes down to classic execution.”Price will of course be one of the factors determining how Candera is received in the market, but that’s one thing the company is still not ready to talk about. All Sundaresh says is that sales should allow the company to reach break-even by the end of next year.

Sundaresh says dozens of beta-customers have tested its controllers since last November and claims that it has already signed up 10 paying customers for when it starts shipping later this summer.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Byte and Switch

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