Cloverleaf Stakes Fresh Claim

With new funding and an enhanced product, virtualization supplier takes new aim at storage

June 30, 2005

2 Min Read
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Cloverleaf Communications Inc. has scored $11 million in a third round of funding, and it's planning a fresh attack on the storage networking market.

Maybe it will be easier this time. Since emerging from stealth in 2003, the startup, based in Southborough, Mass., with R&D in Israel, has had to struggle to define itself to potential customers (see Cloverleaf Climbs Out).

Part of the problem is that Cloverleaf's product, the Intelligent Storage Networking (iSN) system, does a lot. It's an in-band virtualization platform that provides data migration, consolidation, thin provisioning, scaleability beyond traditional SAN and NAS, and simplified management of heterogeneous networks -- for block- and file-based storage.

Oh, and did we mention quality-of-service for storage networking?

On one hand, Cloverleaf has trumpeted all this. On the other, it has resisted those who would label the iSN a "God box" or "virtualization platform.""We are not a virtualization product!" insists CEO Avi Weiss. "We use virtualization as an enabling technology."

At least one analyst says Cloverleaf's challenge is getting its marketing message straight. "They have some incredibly cool technology... They have an extremely scaleable, enterprise-ready, heterogeneous virtualization platform," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy. He says Cloverleaf must get the size and price of iSN low enough to ensure storage managers will kick the tires and fall in love, instead of worrying about having to get their bosses to sign off on a humongous do-all system.

Cloverleaf also has to reach a wider audience, Taneja says. The iSN runs on an operating system and chips from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), in a world where storage managers want gear from .

Taneja says he's aware of changes to Cloverleaf's marketing to address these issues. But Avi Weiss isn't discussing them publicly just yet. Instead, he's pushing several improvements to the latest version of iSN, including data migration using proxy volumes, and support of SANTap, the protocol that links third-party software and appliances to SAN switches from (see Cloverleaf Releases Second-Gen System).

Cloverleaf says it's gaining traction with customers, particularly ones that have merged or acquired other companies and need to migrate large amounts of data. It must also battle for mindshare with providers of in-band virtualization platforms, such as FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC) and perhaps even EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC).The startup hopes its new cash infusion will help it get a bigger profile. Investors include Hyperion Israel Venture Partners, as well as previous investors Elta, Bank of America, and Genesis. Cloverleaf has raised $25 million since its founding in 2001.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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