Copan Cops $17.5M

VTL startup earmarks funding to expand into new market

March 8, 2006

3 Min Read
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Copan Systems picked up $17.5 million in funding today to help expand its product line from virtual tape libraries (VTLs) to archiving.

Copan's third funding round brings the Longmont, Colo., startup's total backing to $56.5 million. Copan claims more than 30 customers and has shipped more than 40 Petabytes of its Revolution 200T VTL system since it launched in 2004. (See Copan Takes Aim at Tape and Copan Launches Disk Backup.)

Copan hopes those early customers could help it gain a foothold as it moves into archiving, particularly as the VTL and archiving markets are rapidly filling up. What's more, Copan's competitors are often eager, like Copan, to play in both fields.

In the past year, Hewlett-Packard, Network Appliance, and IBM moved into VTL. (See NetApp Readies Virtual Tape, HP Upgrade Features OEM Crowd, and IBM, MS in Virtualization Push.) They join EMC, tape vendors ADIC, Quantum, and StorageTek (now Sun), and other startups Diligent Technologies, Sepaton, and Neartek.

One key for Copan could be its MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks) architecture, which makes it possible for disks to take up less space by rotating the order in which they are activated inside an array. Copan densely packs drives into its cabinets, placing 894 disks into a 10-square-foot package. (See Copan Gets New MAID and Copan Sweeps Up $25M.)For at least one customer, MAID is big differentiator. "Most of the VTL vendors use FalconStor software, just like Copan," says Hal Weiss, systems engineer at Baptist Memorial Healthcare. "The real reason I bought Copan is because I could have a massive amount of storage in a small footprint. With EMC or Quantum I would have needed four cabinets for the same amount of storage I get with one Copan box."

An early Copan customer, Baptist Memorial Healthcare recently purchased a second Revolution 200T for a disaster recovery site and will replicate between its original box and the new one. That will give Baptist 224 Tbytes of Copan storage.

Customers will soon have another option. Copan's Revolution 220A archiving system is in beta and scheduled for general availability around mid-year. The 220A uses the same hardware architecture as the 220T, but includes file-based archiving software instead of FalconStor's VTL.

Copan VP of business development Roger Archibald says much of the new funding will be put towards marketing and future development of the archiving platform.

"A lot of our strategy now involves expanding applications in that archiving space," he says. "We have a solid product in backup and recovery, but archiving is emerging as distinct business process that is a real growth opportunity."That real growth will be a big challenge for Copan. Though it beat the established vendors into VTL, it comes into archiving after EMC has gained a foothold with its Centera product. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Network Appliance also sell archiving products, and Hitachi Data Systems will join in around the same time as Copan. (See Hitachi Picks Archiving Partner.)

That doesn't mean anybody has a lock on the field. Baptist Memorial's Weiss, for one, says he's not thrilled with the performance of Centera, and he is considering replacing it with gear from Copan or newcomer Caringo, which isn't even in beta yet and will probably follow Copan into the archiving market. (See CAS Conundrum.)

Copan sees enough potential in archiving that COO Eric Sumpter says the startup can reach breakeven by the first quarter of 2007 if it meets its VTL and archiving sales goals.

Credit Suisse led Copan's funding round, with previous investors Austin Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners, Pequot Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, and Horizon Technology Finance participating.

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC)

  • Archivas Inc.

  • Austin Ventures

  • Caringo

  • Copan Systems Inc.

  • Credit Suisse

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Horizon Technology Finance

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • Globespan Capital Partners

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Pequot Ventures

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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