Seanodes Sets Sail

French virtualization software vendor eyes stateside opportunities

March 17, 2007

3 Min Read
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French software startup Seanodes claims to have a new take on virtualization.

The vendor is touting its Exanodes software as an alternative to VMWare and Xensource for Linux-based high performance clusters. (See VMware to Spin Out, XenSource, and Devil's in the Virtual Details.)

Unlike other vendors, which virtualize servers' CPU and memory resources, using SAN and NAS as repositories for data, Seanodes claims to virtualize the local disk on application servers. The idea here is that users can share virtual data directly from machine to machine, limiting the need for external storage.

According to Frank Gana, Seanodes's marketing director, this approach could shrink the hardware footprint in data centers and save users money. "We present the internal disk as if it were an external array," he says. (See VMware Intros Bundle for SMBs, XenSource Gets IBM Certified, and Vendors Push Virtual Security.)

For now, Seanodes is going after the high performance computing market. "Users in this area have large numbers of Linux clusters," explains Gana, adding that Seanodes is currently being used in "several" HPC sites.But the exec would not provide Byte and Switch with the names of these customers, although he said that some of the organizations are in the European energy sector.

At least one analyst isn't bowled over by Seanodes's story. "I suppose it could be useful if you are really, really space constrained, but this seems to be a solution in search of a problem," says Richard Ptak, managing partner of Ptak Noel & Associates.

With the falling price of storage media, deploying software to virtualize local disks feels like "taking a baseball bat to hit a gnat," says Ptak.

Undeterred, Seanodes's Gana told Byte and Switch that the company has its eye on the enterprise market, particularly ISPs such as Yahoo. (See IBM, Yahoo Release Free Search and Get Users Involved, Says Yahoo Boss.) "We have a beta version of a product that is going to be tested in a few weeks with people from the hosted services industry," says Gana, adding that this will be rolled out in the second quarter.

Again, Gana is playing his cards close to his chest on the identity of these firms, although he hinted that they will include companies that let users store their data across the Web. The big ticket in this space would, of course, be Google, which, as well as using Linux, is renowned for its reliance on commodity hardware. (See Google, Content Classifiers Glom Onto Google, Tracking Google's IT Booty, and NASA.)Although the bulk of Seanodes's work has been in Europe, Gana told Byte and Switch that the startup is now looking stateside. "We're already in touch with big names in the server industry in the U.S. to create OEM deals," said Gana. "It's far from being concluded, but the discussions have begun."

Based in Paris, the 25-employee firm was founded in 2002 by Gana, a former investment banker at V.C. Tocamak Ventures, and Christophe Guittenit, a one-time researcher at the IRIT lab in Toulouse. Since then, Seanodes has racked up two million Euros ($2.65 million) in French V.C. funding and an additional $1.5 million Euros ($2 million) in European subsidies and awards.

The startup is headed by Jacques Baldinger, who was previously managing director for NetApp in southern Europe.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Ptak Noel & Associates

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • Yahoo Inc.

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