Stealthy Ocarina to Add Compression

Secretive startup racks up funding and plots its entry into the storage arena

July 7, 2007

3 Min Read
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Stealth-mode startup Ocarina Networks is quietly planning to enter the data compression market later this year, joining a growing list of vendors looking to reduce users' storage burden.

For now, this outfit's deeply submerged. Ocarina's Website reveals scant details about its core technology, saying only that the startup is developing "application aware storage solutions." In response to a recent inquiry from Byte and Switch, Dave Withers, the startup's senior director for business development, said that the company's formal launch is planned for sometime in the fall. Until then, technology specifics are under wraps.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company recently received funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Highland Capital Partners. Although Ocarina is staying tight-lipped about the value of this funding, sources say it's between $10 million and $11 million.

Highland Capital Partners's Website describes Ocarina as committed to resolving "out of control data storage growth," adding that the startup is building "robust and high-performance storage and network subsystems."

Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja was able to shed some more light on the startup's core offering. "The company will be participating in an aspect of de-duplication," he says, adding that this will apply to primary, as opposed to backup, storage devices.A number of vendors, including Sepaton, Data Domain, and Diligent, are aiming de-duplication products at backup devices. Until now, few firms have locked on to primary storage devices, such as EMC's Symmetrix and Clariion boxes. (See EMC Talks Disk & De-Dupe, NetApp De-Dupes, and De-Dupe Deep Dive.)

According to Taneja, at this stage the closest competitor to Ocarina is Storewiz, which compresses data as it travels from a server to a storage array. (See Storewiz Notches $9M.) By spreading the workload across multiple CPUs, Storewiz claims to improve existing compression ratios for databases, as well as CIFS and NFS files. (See Storewiz Bolsters Compression, Storewiz Intros STN-5000, and Storewiz Intros Product Line.)

Storewiz is touting its technology as an alternative to data de-duplication, which reduces the bulk of backed-up data by compressing data that appears in more than one place. (See Insider: De-Dupe Demystified, Data Domain Goes Public, Storage Bubble Wrap, Quantum Gains on Rival's IPO, and De-Dupe Vendors Shake Hands.)

File-based compression certainly seems to figure prominently in Ocarina's future. The startup is currently recruiting for more than half a dozen IT staff, including a network filesystem engineer with a strong knowledge of CIFS and NFS. Ocarina is also on the lookout for a compression researcher capable of creating high-performance algorithms for image and video compression.

Ocarina's management team includes Murli Thirumale as Ocarina's CEO. Thirumale is better known as the former group vice president and general manager of Citrix's Advanced Solutions Group, where he was responsible for the Access Gateway and Application Gateway product lines. (See Citrix Widens WAN Strategy, Microsoft, Citrix Expand, and Intriguing Equation.)Prior to joining Citrix, Thirumale was co-founder and CEO of SSL specialist Net6, which was acquired by Citrix for $50 million in 2004. (See Citrix Buys SSL Vendor Net6, Net6 Cooks Up New Batch of VPN, and Net6 Releases Hybrid-VPN Gateway.) This followed stints at telecom specialist Symmetricom and HP, where Thirumale spent seven years as a general manager.

Another former Citrix and Net6 exec, Gautham Rao, is Ocarina's CTO. Ocarina's Withers formerly ran business development at clustering specialist Isilon. (See Isilon: The Honeymoon's Over, Isilon to Power Nedstat, and Isilon Announces Results.) Another recent addition is Carter George, the one-time vice president of corporate development at network file virtualization vendor PolyServe, who is now Ocarina's vice president of products. (See PolyServe Pulls in $19.5M, PolyServe Lands $20M, Talks IPO, and HP Bags Polyserve.)

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Asigra Inc.

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Highland Capital Partners

  • Isilon Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)

  • Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

  • PolyServe Inc.

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • Storewize Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Taneja Group

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