Asempra Exchanges CEOs

McData vet takes over fledgling CDP startup

January 6, 2007

4 Min Read
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Continuous data protection (CDP) startup Asempra has a new management team, headed by former McData sales boss Gary Gysin.

Gysin, who departed McData in the wake of the sale to its switch rival Brocade, will be officially inaugurated as Asempra CEO Monday but has been on the job for a few weeks. He replaces founder Dan Fraisl, who left the company.

Gysin is bringing in former Maxtor marketing VP Eric Herzog to head marketing and added former Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks to Asempra's board.

Besides escaping snowy Colorado for Sunnyvale, Calif., Gysin survived a sinking McData ship by taking over the Asempra reins. (See Brocade Bags McData For $713M.)

"When the Brocade acquisition was announced, it was clear the [McData] management team was out," he says. "I left three days later. I didn't want to wait around and be on ice for five or six months."Fortunately, Gysin's not joining Asempra as a developer. The startup has 18 Russian engineers in Siberia, which makes them permanently on ice.

Nobody is saying why Fraisl was pushed out or if he was banished to Siberia. But Gysin claims his main job at Asempra is to bump up sales and marketing now that the 50-person startup has a solid, shipping product. That's usually a sign that sales aren't what the board expected.

Asempra claims around 50 customers for its Business Continuity Server, although New Jersey-based trucking firm CD&L is the only one on the record so far. Asempra concentrates on protecting Microsoft environments, specifically Exchange, SQL Server, and Windows file servers. (See Top 10 Startups to Watch and Asempra Assembles $20M .)

But it's far from alone there. Even after a great bit of consolidation, there are still a lot of CDP companies standing. Several of them -- Atempo, Mimosa Systems, and TimeSpring Software -- also concentrate on Exchange and other Windows apps. (See Energizing Exchange and Into the Email Backup Maze.)

"There are a lot of people playing in the market that would claim to have CDP," Gysin says. "Maybe they do, maybe they don't. There's been a lot of interest and a lot of acquisition interest in the last year."There was also one noticeable flop in CDP pioneer Revivio, which was rescued from the scrap heap when Symantec bought its IP to integrate CDP into its backup software. (See Symantec Swallows Revivio.) EMC also acquired CDP for its Legato backup applications when it spent $153 million on Kashya last year. (See EMC Coughs Up for Kashya.) Another backup vendor, CA, acquired CDP technology in its XOsoft acquisition. (See CA Buys XOsoft.) Others such as Asigra and CommVault developed their own CDP to integrate into their backup software. (See Asigra 'Features' CDP.)

Gysin says he hopes to go a different route than Revivio, which tried to sell its CDP appliances directly instead of through OEM deals. Mendocino Software is going the OEM path, but only has one major OEM -- Hewlett-Packard -- locked up. (See New Wave of CDP Rolls In.) Asempra will try to forge OEM relationships and other partnerships, Gysin says.

"We are getting aggressive with partners in the storage space," he says. "Many haven't made their bets yet, and we're active with all the top candidates."

Still, Asempra faces challenges. First, there's the integration of CDP into traditional backup products. That could alleviate the need for standalone CDP. But Gysin says that's not the case for Asempra's target market -- Windows shops with between $15 million and $1 billion in revenue.

"In large enterprises, you'll see more suites that adopt all-in-one snapshots, replication, CDP, and traditional backup," he says. "The customers we're talking to don't necessarily need the monster suite."Another problem could be over-reliance on Microsoft applications. That could help in the short-term, especially because Exchange backup and restore is a major pain point for many IT shops. But Microsoft is working on support for Exchange and SQL Server in its Data Protection Manager (DPM) that already protects files. (See Microsoft Intros DPM.)

"Eventually, Microsoft will get it," analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group says. "The question is, what will Asempra's differentiator be then?"

Gysin says Asempra will broaden support for other operating systems later this year, and eventually add other functionality, but he isn't giving away any details just yet.

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Atempo Inc.

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Mendocino Software

  • McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Mimosa Systems Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • TimeSpring Software Corp.

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