Startup prepares to step out of stealth with new take on compression

May 9, 2007

4 Min Read
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Secretive startup CebaTech is developing compression and 10-Gbit/s offload technology that it claims will boost the performance of networked storage devices.

The Eatontown, N.J.-based firm plans to launch the first of its products, a piece of silicon for compressing and decompressing data, next month, with other offerings to follow later this year and in 2008.

CebaTech's technology, which it describes as CebaIP, is essentially a processor-style hardware core for protocol processing that can be built into CPUs and other chips. (See CebaTech Announces CebaIP.) "It's an enabling technology for companies that want to build data networking and storage products," says Joe Rash, a member of the firm's technical advisory board.

Although unwilling to divulge specifics, Rash explains that CebaTech's first product will use the GZIP algorithm for compressing and decompressing data, and will also offer optional encryption. This, he claims, will be the "highest performing, lowest cost" compression and encryption on the market, although he did not back this statement up with pricing or specific performance metrics.

A number of vendors are already playing in this space, notably StoreWiz, which recently upgraded its compression appliances with more CPU power and more efficient algorithms. (See Storewiz Bolsters Compression.) In the de-dupe space, vendors such as Data Domain, Diligent, and Quantum are also gaining momentum by focusing on archiving and backup. (See De-Dupe Vendors Shake Hands, Quantum Delves Deeper Into De-Dupe, and Analysis: Data De-Duping.The newcomer will need some pretty impressive figures if it is to outstrip some of these players. StoreWiz, for example, says that it can now improve compression ratios from 3:1 to 4:1 for files and achieve up to 5:1 compression for databases. (See Storewiz Intros Product Line.)

At least one analyst said that compression rates could be squeezed down further, albeit at a price premium. "With the right processing power and the right algorithm, [CebaTech] could push the rate of compression, but how much will it cost to do that?" says Greg Schulz, of analyst firm StorageIO.

Compression appliances from StoreWiz, for example, start at $22,000, which Schulz describes as "cost-effective" for many users. "The benefit of an in-line compression device like StoreWiz, is that you can drop it into your environment and see an increase in your [data] utilization and effectiveness," he says.

CebaTech's Rash told Byte and Switch that the startup is already in discussions with three vendors looking to build its GZIP hardware into their own offerings, although he would not name names.

The exec was more forthcoming on CebaTech's product roadmap, explaining that a core with TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE) features will be available in the third quarter of this year, and an IPSec offering sometime in 2008.Like many vendors, CebaTech is also touting 10-Gbit/s capabilities in an attempt to tap growing demands for high-speed networking, notably for protocols such as iSCSI and TCP/IP. (121783}, 10-Gig iSCSI SANs Set for Takeoff, The iSCSI Subtext to 10-GigE, Brocade Busts Out 10-Gbit/s Plans, and iSCSI Gang Talks Big.) "CPUs often struggle to keep up with these protocols at 10-Gig," says Rash, adding that CebaTech's core will help processors handle 10-Gbit/s throughput.

The company, which started life in 2004, is the successor to chip specialist Sandgate Technologies, which sold TOE technology to Intel. Rash told Byte and Switch that the startup decided to branch out into other technologies in late 2005.

CebaTech's co-founder and president, Chad Spackman, was also co-founder of Sandgate, along with Adrian Port, who now serves as CebaTech's chief technologist. Jon Wells, the former team leader for hardware descriptive language at Sandgate, is the third of the CebaTech co-founders.

The company currently has around 18 employees, according to Rash, who was less open on the subject of CebaTech's financials.

The exec told Byte and Switch that CebaTech has had three small rounds of funding, although he would not say how much money the firm has raked in. A quick Internet search reveals that the firm picked up a $4.5 million Series B in mid 2005, backed by NJTC Venture Fund, 2M Technology Investors, and SAS Investors.Another round is unlikely, at least in the near future. "Operationally, we're good for this calendar year," says Rash.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • CebaTech Inc.

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • NJTC Venture Fund

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)

  • Storewize Inc.

  • 2M Invest A/S

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