IP Storage Has a Pulse

The iSCSI sector moves ahead, as EMC OKs Nishan's gear and iStor lands $11M in funding

February 12, 2003

4 Min Read
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Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) might have cut back on its IP storage development -- having laid off most of the staff of NuSpeed, the iSCSI router startup it acquired in mid-2000 -- but there's still plenty of movement going on elsewhere in this sector (see Cisco Lays Off NuSpeed Team and NuSpeed Duo Departs Cisco).

IP storage switch startup Nishan Systems Inc. announced yesterday that it has completed qualification with EMC Corp.'s (NYSE: EMC) Symmetrix Data Replication Facility (SRDF) and MirrorView products -- a rigorous cycle of interoperability and compliance that has taken over a year to attain (see EMC Blesses Nishan).

"It's not a trivial process to go through," says Tom Clark, director of technical marketing at Nishan. "You go in with a good product and come out with a better one."

Clark says Nishan has had numerous field sales opportunities with EMC, but the dealbreaker has always been the fact that its gear was not on EMC's compatibility list. "It's a major milestone in terms of opening up field sales," he says. Nishan is quietly hoping that its qualification with EMC will eventually turn into a reseller deal, as Nishan achieved with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) (see HDS Adds IP Support).

In addition to EMC's data replication software, Nishan is qualified with HDS TrueCopy; Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) StorEdge 9900 TrueCopy; Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) SANworks Data Replication Manager (DRM); XIOtech Corp. REDI-SANlinks; LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI) SANtricity Remote Volume Mirror (RVM); and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) Remote Volume Mirror (RVM). Nishan has also completed IBM Corp.'s (NYSE: IBM) TotalStorage Proven program.An increasing requirement for data replication over distances is driving sales of Nishan's switches, the company says, particularly in Europe, where it has at least 25 paying customers. The geography of the region is apparently what's contributing to sales there, according to Clark. "The U.S. is a contiguous expansion, whereas Europe is divided up country by country and each local business unit has its own operations and laws," he says. "Data replication across geographic boundaries helps European companies maintain uniform sharing of corporate information."

Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG), serving the local government sector in the Netherlands, recently deployed Nishan's IPS3300 channel extenders as part of its disaster recovery initiative. The solution includes several products from Hitachi including TrueCopy, ShadowImage, and Dynamic Link Manager, plus three McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) ED-6064 directors and 100 Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) LP9002L-L2 Fibre Channel host bus adapters.

"We definitely feel we are going against the tide now in terms of the economy," notes Clark.

Meanwhile, another IP storage startup, iStor Networks, is focusing on iSCSI chips for target devices. Peter Cmaylo, VP of business development at iStor, says it's all about timing. "The gun fired to start the IP storage race but no one showed up," he says.

Irvine, Calif.-based iStor this week announced an $11 million Series A round mostly from Asian investors, including Via Tech, Dlink, China International Development, Edon Technology, Pac-Link, and Grand Pacific. [Ed. note: The company actually raised the funding in February 2002... only took 'em a year to put the press release together!] The company expects to close a second round, hoping to raise its total to $22 million, by mid-year.Incumbent storage system manufacturers will not begin shipping IP storage arrays until 2004, according to Cmaylo. And how does he know this, you ask? Apparently iStor has development agreements with three such companies, although Cmaylo declined to name names. "We are developing target-side controllers for these specific devices," he notes. Sounds great, but we'll wait until we see them.

The company was founded by brothers Frank and Simon Huang. Previously, Simon founded CMD Technology Inc., a semiconductor company, and then sold it to Silicon Image for $45 million. Frank, meanwhile, founded ASIC developer Vertex Networks and sold it to Mitel Networks for $220 million. It looks as if the Huang brothers know their way around the semiconductor market.

One other sign of life for IP storage: Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) completed an iSCSI plug-fest last week in which 27 iSCSI vendors tested interoperability of their products with the Windows environment -- definitely an encouraging indicator for iSCSI vendors (see Microsoft Won't Ship iSCSI in .NET

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