Exanet Lands $17M

The VCs and management team look hot, but so does the competition

December 6, 2001

2 Min Read
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Exanet Inc., the latest startup with a plan to scale storage beyond the limits of today's equipment, has completed its second round of venture funding, bringing its total raised to date to $17 million.

Investors in Exanet include Evergreen Canada-IsraelInvestments Ltd., Intel Capital, and Microdent Ltd.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, with research and development inHerzilia, Israel, Exanet says it will use the funding to bring its technology to market late next year.

Exanet's prototype is dubbed the ExaStore clustering system. It includes some patent-pending software called ExaMesh - loaded on an industry-standard Intel server with some InfiniBand interconnect technology thrown in.

Company officials say ExaStore will make it easy to scale storage across key dimensions, including capacity, bandwidth, backup/restore speed, geography, and manageability.“We are providing the first fully scalable mesh interconnect and storage cache," a spokesperson says.

Details of how the product works will stay largely under wraps until the company launches beta tests at a range of companies early in 2002.

This isn't to say the vendor's lips are completely sealed. Exanet has apparently shown its wares to some potential licensees, including equipment manufacturers. "We've already demonstrated our technology, and, with this latest round offinancing, we're on track to meet our timetable for commercial delivery,” said CEO Giora Yaron.

Yaron may generate a certain amount of confidence through his credentials alone. He is a former executive VP at National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM) who helped bring Indigo NV (Nasdaq: INDG) to IPO in the mid-1990s. Indigo is a digital print technology company now affiliated with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP).

Yaron also chairs the board of directors at P-Cube Inc., a company specializing in a Layer 7 subscriber management box. And he cofounded Pentacom Ltd., developer of an intelligent IP-based concentrator supporting spatial reuse protocol (SRP). Pentacom was sold to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for $118 million in April 2000.Exanet chief strategy officer Mitch Shults was formerly marketing director at Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), where he kicked-off Intel's InfiniBand initiative and enterprise server strategy. Exanet's executive VP of R&D is Nir Peleg, a parallel computing expert who formerly worked at DEC and became well-known among storage system architects.

All this sounds great, but Exanet faces some stiff competition from the growing pool of startups (many with impressive executive rosters) that claim to have the answer to scaling storage. The list includes Zambeel Inc.

, Panasas Inc., FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC), Paceline Systems Corp., and LeftHand Networks – to name a few. The mighty EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is also gradually shifting its weight over to software, presenting an 800-pound gorilla block against startups entering this field (see EMC Goes Soft and EMC Splits Into Three).

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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