StorMagic Steps Into iSCSI SANs

Startup emerges from stealth, deploys its software at Oxford University

September 26, 2007

4 Min Read
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Startup StorMagic is the latest vendor to try its luck in the iSCSI SAN market, touting a software-based solution for tying servers and storage together.

After almost 18 months in stealth mode, the vendor unveiled its SM Series software and its first customer today. "What we're offering is a software solution that will go into an organization and automate their storage environment," says Mike Stolz, StorMagic's vice president of marketing.

A number of vendors, including LeftHand Networks, IBM, and NetApp, have been cranking up their iSCSI SAN efforts over recent months, although StorMagic, unlike its competitors, has no interest in the enterprise market. "We're focused on developing solutions for the SMB marketplace -- we're focused on companies of 50 to 250 people," says Stolz.

The SM Series software runs on a standard Windows-based Intel server connected to storage. The solution uses software agents on application servers, such as file, print, and Web servers, to create a SAN. "The application server can access the storage behind the main server," says Stolz, explaining that this opens up the storage possibilities for smaller firms. "The big problem that organizations of this size face is that they dont have the bandwidth and resources to manage storage, so they have been staying with direct-attached."

StorMagic's first customer is Oxford University Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, which is using the SM Series to share 3 Tbytes of data held in a RAID array from Fibrenetix. "We have three application servers connected to it at the moment," says Jon Edwards, an IT officer at the Faculty, explaining that he will probably add another three servers to his SAN by the end of the year.The SAN, which was deployed last month, has given the Faculty a much greater degree of storage flexibility than it had before. "Our reason for getting the iSCSI SAN was to be able to consolidate our direct-attached storage and have a pool of storage that we can allocate as needed," explains Edwards.

Oxford University looked at NetApp's StorVault and Overland's REO devices prior to deploying StorMagic, but Edwards told Byte and Switch that cost swayed his decision in favor of the startup's software-based approach. "The devices that [NetApp and Overland] had were out of our price range," he says. "Being an educational establishment, pricing is an issue."

IBM's recently announced DS3300 was not up for consideration, purely because of timing, according to Edwards. "That went under the radar," he says, explaining that the Faculty started its iSCSI SAN deployment a few weeks before the DS3300 was launched at the end of August.

Pricing for StorMagic's SM Series starts at $8,000 for 3 Tbytes of storage, although Edwards would not reveal just how much cheaper this was than NetApp and Overland.

Like StorMagic, LeftHand Networks also uses software targets, as opposed to specialized hardware, to build iSCSI SANs, although StorMagic's Stolz claims that unlike LeftHand, his startup has no high-end aspirations. "We're not looking at the enterprise, we're not looking at mid-sized environments, we're totally focused on the SMBs."The startup is nonetheless playing catch-up to LeftHand, which already counts Mitsubishi Electric, Chicago's Field Museum, and the Army Corps of Engineers amongst its iSCSI SAN customers.

StorMagic was founded last year by Hans O'Sullivan, the founder of storage subsystem specialist Eurologic and virtualization vendor Elipsan, which were acquired, respectively, by Adaptec in 2003 and 2004.

The exec now serves as StorMagic's CEO, although the startup is keeping details of its financials under wraps. "We're not disclosing the funding amount," says Stolz, saying only that the firm is backed by some angel investors.

StorMagic currently has 25 employees split between its HQ in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bristol in the U.K. "This time next year, we will be looking to be 50 [people strong] or larger," explains former Xiotech exec Stolz, adding that he joined the team to build up StorMagic's sales and marketing team.

The startup will begin shipping its solution next week, and Stolz says the firm is about to start work with more than a dozen beta customers. "We have another ten to fifteen customers that are in line to start using the software in the next few weeks."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.

  • Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL)

  • StorMagic Ltd.

  • Xiotech Corp.

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