Rhapsody to Wax Rhapsodic?

Gears up for launch and product execution but will face a crowdedmarketplace

June 15, 2001

2 Min Read
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Rhapsody Networks is hiding its light under a bushel, with a few monthsstill to go in stealth mode, but its product is firmly positioned on ourradar screens.

Based in Fremont, Calif., Rhapsodys mission is to build a switch tosell to large enterprises and storage service providers (SSPs). The companyjoins a lengthening list of startups -- including Pirus Networks, Nishan Systems Inc., Cereva Networks Inc., Troika Nerworks, TrueSAN Networks Inc., and 3PARdata, among others -- that all have their eyes on this market. Then there are the incumbent players,like Brocade CommunicationsSystems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq:MCDT).

Rhapsody ignored our requests for an interview but did graciously offerto -- ahem -- “edit” our story for us. We regretfully declined,instead opting to chat up several VCs in Silicon Valley -- one of whom told us thecompany is close to completing a second round of funding expected to bebetween $40 million and $50 million.

Here’s what we know. Rhapsody is building a large “storage serviceplatform” (in plain English, a switch) that’s protocol-, network-, and disk-independent, for connecting storage systems over the LAN, MAN, and WAN viaiSCSI (SCSI over IP). Its architecture is expected to support storage systems from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT;Paris: PHA), Sun MicrosystemsInc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE:CPQ).

It hopes to set itself apart from the pack by focusing on security andmanageability for very large operations. One of the hottest technologies inthis space is virtualization software, which enables SSPs to divvy up storageamong multiple customers on a single network and to view each of thesecustomers through a single management system. Rhapsody hints at thiscapability on its Website.Rhapsody has received an initial round of funding worth $12 million from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, and a fewprivate investors. Sequoia was an early investor in Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), and itjust so happens that Tom Mendoza, president of Network Appliance, is on Rhapsody’sboard of directors. On the company’s technical advisory board is anothernotable name from Network Appliance, executive VP of engineering Dave Hitz.

The executive team also includes names from Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:LU) and Nortel NetworksCorp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), which may give it some sway whenapproaching service providers. Other key executives come from Agilent Technologies Inc.(NYSE: A), Hewlett-Packard Co.(NYSE: HWP), and Legato SystemsInc. (Nasdaq: LGTO).

At last count, the company had 45 employees, but sources close to the firm say it's growing by the day.

One problem Rhapsody faces is the product’s reliance on iSCSI, a standardyet to be completed and signed-off by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

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