Candera Swears It's Beyond Compare

Pops out its virtualization box after three years of work. Does it have the frijoles to succeed?

September 30, 2003

3 Min Read
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Candera Inc., after pouring three years of virtual sweat into its virtualization appliance, is announcing that it's finally shipping its SCE 510 Cluster system -- and it says it's officially landed one paying customer.

The Milpitas, Calif., startup, founded in 2000 and originally called Confluence Networks, also announced it has contracted with IBM Global Services to provide around-the-clock technical support for its products, and it said it would outsource manufacturing to Sanmina-SCI Corp. (Nasdaq: SANM).

Candera's SCE 510, a purpose-built appliance with eight Fibre Channel ports, is designed to let users centralize all of their heterogeneous SAN storage into a single virtual whole with one common management interface. One of the major benefits of the appliance is that using Candera's Java-based management tool, just about any IT staffer can quickly and easily tap into the storage infrastructure (if they have permission) without having to learn any vendor-specific tool, says Stephen Terlizzi, VP of marketing and business development.

"Most organizations have one person who they trust to do the storage provisioning," he says. "They've made everything in their SAN environment redundant -- except for this one guy."

The startup claims its appliance works with just about every major storage, server, switch, and host bus adapter on the market, including storage systems from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) (see Candera Unveils Controller and Candera Gets Interoperable).Candera will sell the SCE 510 only in dual-node, high-availability pairs, with a list price starting at $120,000. And how about performance? Terlizzi claims a single FC port on the SCE 510 is able to support either 24 dual-ported hosts or 12 dual-ported RAID controllers.

At this point, Candera says it has more than 50 prospective customers in various stages of the sales pipeline, along with one actual paying customer [ed. note: we hope Candera gave them free T-shirts or something]. Unfortunately, Candera's not able to tell us who its customer or prospects are just yet. The company began beta testing its virtualization appliance in January 2003.

Unlike other virtualization approaches in the market, Candera says it's the only special-purpose SAN appliance that is neither a PC-based device nor a modified Fibre Channel switch. "There's been so much marketing in this space, our biggest challenge is explaining what we do and why we're different," says Terlizzi, who was previously with NAS switch startup Z-force Inc. before joining Candera this summer.

Other "virtualization" products -- representing a mish-mash of a category -- include appliances like IBM's SAN Volume Controller and HP's Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA); intelligent switches that are still in development from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); and software from DataCore Software Corp., FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC), and Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS). (See IBM Plays With Self (Virtually) and V-Switch Alliances Take Shape.)

As it tries to line up revenue-producing customers and cut through the rest of the noise in the market, Candera is also looking to raise a third round of funding -- in the range of $15 million to $25 million -- in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to Terlizzi.To date, the startup has received $47 million in funding to date from investors that include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Redpoint Ventures, Comcast Interactive Capital, Dali Hook Partners, Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX), and Venture Strategy Partners. (See Can Candera Compete? and Confluence Scoops Up $28M.)

The product is available via Candera's direct sales force as well as through its first signed reseller, Columbus-based Adexis.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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