Now in the US, Australian firm seeks out storage OEMs

June 21, 2005

3 Min Read
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Rocksoft Ltd. isn't a new company, but it's new to the storage market. The software supplier has come to the U.S. to expand a business launched in Adelaide, Australia, way back in 2000.

Rocksoft's stock-in-trade is software that reduces the footprint, and consequently the amount of bandwidth, required to store and transmit data. Using algorithms and technology spearheaded by founder and chairman Ross Williams, Rocksoft offers storage suppliers a toolkit called Blocklets, which eliminates redundancy in unstructured data and then compresses it for further space-saving (see Rocksoft Offers Toolkit). Data reduction improves as data volumes increase and can result in 50-to-1 reduction ratios, execs claim.

While Blocklets works at the "granular byte level," it's suited to email, Word files, Exchange and Lotus Notes databases, PDF files, and other kinds of unstructured, uncompressed data formats. Video and MP3 files are highly compressed and don't lend themselves to redundancy elimination, Rocksoft maintains.

Rocksoft's goal is to license its software to vendors of storage gear, as well as WAFS and WAN optimization players. "We offer an enabling technology to improve their product a step further," says Todd Viegut, senior VP and COO of Rocksoft's U.S. operations. He acknowledges it's tough to explain how Blocklets differs from traditional compression techniques -- or to differentiate it from WAN optimizers.

One thing that may help Rocksoft is its independence from hardware. A slew of recent acquisitions of WAN optimizers and WAFS software by companies like Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) shows companies are eager to adopt this kind of technology (see Peribit Deal: More to Come, Brocade Invests in Tacit, and Cisco Chomps FineGround). Maybe some would prefer a licensed solution instead of an all-out merger. (See IP Service Software Directory: )When Ross Williams founded Rocksoft, his focus was security. Rocksoft still offers a product called Veracity that helps monitor and manage IT infrastructure, using some of the same techniques now featured in Blocklets. According to Viegut, Veracity's "moderate" success with about 60 customers gave Williams the idea to focus on the storage market. After all, Williams's expertise was compression, and he saw more opportunity to use it in storage networking.

By mid 2004, Rocksoft had developed Blocklets and moved its marketing from Adelaide to the U.S., opening offices in San Jose, Calif., and Dallas. While company headquarters remains in Adelaide, the U.S. contingent's been well received, according to Viegut: "We're in half a dozen labs being evaluated... fairly major labs." Two customers are expected to go public with announcements about Rocksoft licenses in the near future, he says.

The switch from security to storage hasn't changed the way Rocksoft works. Indeed, most of its 26 or so full-time employees are still engineers in Adelaide. "We are a think tank of algorithmic scientists. We stick to our core focus," Viegut says.

Rocksoft is privately funded by a combination of institutional and private investors based in Australia. The amount of its funding and the investors are undisclosed, but Viegut says, "We have plenty of money." According to Australian news archives, Rocksoft attempted to go public in Australia in 2001, though its bid was withdrawn.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch0

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