Exanet Shifts Gears

NAS startup unveils new CEO, funding, and its first branded hardware

March 4, 2008

3 Min Read
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NAS startup Exanet is preparing to step into the hardware arena with a new CEO and more than $10 million in new funding.

The vendor, which competes with NetApp, Isilon, and BlueArc, quietly swapped out its CEO four months ago, replacing Rami Schwartz with Arnon Gat, the former CEO of semiconductor company AG Associates.

"I was asked by the board to come in and continue the growth of Exanet," says Gat, explaining the firm recently closed an unannounced funding round, bringing its total backing to $70 million.

Exanet has traditionally kept its funding under wraps, confirming only that last year's $18 million C round brought its financing to "somewhere in between $40 million and $60 million."

Based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Ra'anana, Israel, Exanet is planning to enter the hardware arena, unveiling a NAS server and storage arrays running its flagship ExaStore software tomorrow."Our challenge is to take that software piece from a company in Israel and compete worldwide with a giant like NetApp or Isilon," says the CEO, explaining the firm's decision to extend beyond its software roots.

Tomorrow morning, Exanet will take the wraps off its EX1500 NAS server, a rebranded IBM xSeries 3650, and its DX48 and DX12 arrays, which are based on Xyratex kit.

"This is the first time that we have had branded hardware," explains Clive Surfleet, Exanet's chief marketing officer. "We decided to do that because we felt that we could be far more effective in serving our customers if we had a full packaged solution and not have the integration responsibility rest with the customers."

The EX1500, which contains two Intel Xeon quad-core processors, is capable of transferring data at more than 400 Mbytes per second, according to Exanet. Pricing for the NAS server, which is available now, starts at $51,740, although the base configuration is a two-node cluster priced at $103,480.

On the storage side, Exanet will launch its DX12, which contains either 6 Tbytes of SATA storage or 3.6 Tbytes of Fibre Channel, priced at $39,000 and $54,000, respectively.The high-end DX48, which contains SATA 1-Tbyte drives, comes in either a 24 Tbyte or 48 Tbyte configuration, with list prices starting at $140,000 and $252,000, respectively.

Exanet, which claims more than 100 customers to date, including Nokia and French Telecom giant TF1, also overhauled its ExaStore software today, touting the ability to support 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and 500 Tbytes in a two-node storage system. The previous version of the software could only support 1-Gbit/s Ethernet and 120 Tbytes.

In addition to OEM'ing gear from IBM and Xyratex, Exanet also resells IBM storage. The startup will continue to support third-party storage systems, according to Surfleet, something which at least one analyst thinks is a shrewd move.

"It mainly gives the customer the choice," says Brian Babineau, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "If they have a preferred storage vendor, they can go that route, [but] if they are not used to managing IBM storage, then it's probably a good move to go for an all-in-one solution."

Despite facing stiff competition from established vendors like NetApp, Babineau thinks that the startup could reap the benefits of the current economic slowdown. "The key thing is that they are very high performance and highly scaleable," he says. "You can play these feature function games at a time when people are trying to save money."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.

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • Exanet Inc.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)

  • Xyratex Ltd.0

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