NextIO Nets $19 Million

Stealthy startup plans the imminent launch of its first I/O virtualization offerings

March 1, 2008

3 Min Read
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Secretive startup NextIO has clinched $18.8 million in Series C funding as it plans to unveil its first I/O virtualization products linking servers and storage.

The round, which was led by Adams Capital Management and Crescendo Ventures, brings NextIO's total funding to $40 million and will be used for bulking up the firm's workforce, particularly in sales, marketing, and support.

"We will be growing from our current 35 people to 50 people," says Chris Pettey, the NextIO co-founder and CTO, explaining that the vendor's first products will be launched with the next two or three months.

The Austin, Texas-based startup, which is backed by Dell, has developed what it describes as a PCI-Express I/O virtualization switch. This can be deployed either as a blade or a rack-mounted device, according to Pettey.

"Our system is designed to take the I/O out of the server and put it at the edge of the blade or the rack," says Pettey, explaining that the solution will share I/O across multiple servers.A number of vendors, including VirtenSys and PLX, are touting PCI Express-based virtualization as a cheaper alternative to the likes of Ethernet, arguing that the technology offers a straightforward way to link PCI-based server blades with networking and storage devices.

Although unwilling to divulge full details of NextIO's technology, Pettey confirmed that the startup's solution will function as a "gateway" device connecting servers to storage.

"You will see us as a gateway to your SAN -- we're the connection point between the server and whatever storage I/O you need," he says. "We can allow you to support any form of storage [such as] direct attached, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI."

At this stage, the startup is keeping its list of OEM customers under wraps, although Pettey tells Byte and Switch that partners will be made public during the coming months.

"You will see more announcements from us and activity with regard to partnerships and solution capabilities for OEMs throughout the year," he says.Dell and Fujitsu have already demo'd NextIO's technology, so they appear to be likely OEM partners, although Pettey refused to say whether this is the case.

Despite NextIO's marketing spiel, I/O virtualization has had fairly slow progress up to this point, with actual products few and far between. VirtenSys, for example, which recently clinched $12 million in Series B funding, has not yet launched its own switch hardware, although the technology is said to be imminent.

I/O virtualization announcements have trickled out of PLX, such as when the vendor's PEX 8533 switch was recently deployed on HP's ProLiant DL580 server. PLX also announced the second generation of its ExpressLane family of PCI-Express switches last year, which are capable of virtualizing I/O.

I/O virtualization "is a fairly tough problem to solve," says Pettey. "It takes a lot of work to develop a solution that fits seamlessly."

NextIO started life as a fabless semiconductor company back in 2003, although the company decided to change course just over a year ago. "We switched from being a chip company at the end of 2006," says Pettey. "As we were engaged with OEMs, the feedback was, 'Don't just sell one piece of the solution.' "Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Crescendo Ventures

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • NextIO Inc.

  • PLX Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: PLXT)

  • VirtenSys Ltd.0

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