Incipient Still Incipient

With total funding at $79M, virtualization software startup is ready for... beta testing

February 1, 2006

3 Min Read
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Incipient, a startup that makes software that will help storage vendors compete with EMCs Invista virtualization appliance, picked up $24 million in funding today -- its second significant round in a year. (See Incipient Closes $24M .)

Incipient scooped up $20 million last January and now has $79 million in funding over four rounds, although it doesn’t yet have a shipping version of its Network Storage Platform (NSP).

Like the software EMC developed for Invista, NSP is designed to work with intelligent switches from Brocade, Cisco, McData, and QLogic to handle volume management, non-disruptive data migration, copy services, and automated provisioning. Incipient will have no direct sales, but has been working with EMC rivals to sell its software. (See Incipient Looks to Deal.)

Robert Infantino, Incipient VP of marketing and alliances, says the startup has “multiple” deals in the works but won’t name its partners. It’s no secret that IBM has been working with Incipient and is waiting for its software to be fully baked. IBM, which sells its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) virtualization software on an in-band appliance, hasn’t publicly committed to an intelligent switch product but doesn’t rule it out either. (See IBM's Got Virtual Vision.)

Sources say Heweltt-Packard has a tentative deal with Incipient, but won’t commit until the software is generally available. StorageTek explored an OEM deal with Incipient last year, but there has been no talk of that relationship since Sun acquired StorageTek. (See StorageTek Plans Virtualization Device.)Infantino says he expects Incipient software to ship in products this year. Then again, Incipient anticipated the 2005 funding would help launch products last year.

Infantino says testing took longer than expected, and the last funding round was used primarily to complete development while the new money will go for sales and marketing. Incipient is just finishing its alpha program and getting ready for beta testing.

“This product sits in the data path, so we’re doing a fair amount of testing,” Infantino says. “We believe at the end of the test cycle -- months and months and months of testing -- the product will come out bulletproof. But the amount of testing we’re doing has caused the launch of the product to be pushed out.”

Incipient isn’t alone here. EMC also fell behind schedule with Invista, which finally started shipping to a limited number of customers in the fourth quarter following a well hyped product launch last July. (See Invisible Invista.)

Still, others already have block virtualization products on the market. Software vendors FalconStor and StoreAge have been shipping virtualization products for years, and Fujitsu entered the picture last month with the Eternus VS900 switch-based product. But their products do not support the major three switch vendors.Incipient also faces competition from vendors that feel virtualization does not belong in the switch. Hitachi Data Systems, which does virtualization in the arrays of its TagmaStore SAN controllers, leads that school of thought.

QuestMark Partners led Incipient’s funding round with Wasatch Advisors and previous investors Globespan Capital Partners, GrandBanks Capital, Greylock, HLM Venture Partners, and Sigma Partners participating.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY)

  • Globespan Capital Partners

  • Grandbanks Capital

  • Greylock Partners

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Incipient Inc.

  • QuestMark Partners

  • Sigma Partners

  • StoreAge Networking Technologies Ltd.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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