Kashya Replicates on the Cheap

Startup claims its PC appliance offers fast, long-distance replication at a low price

September 16, 2003

5 Min Read
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Six months after stepping out of stealth, data replication startup Kashya Inc. unveiled its first product today: a replication appliance it claims offers enterprise-level performance at a fraction of the price of most high-end offerings (see Kashya Unveils Replication Appliance).

The San Jose, Calif., startup says its new KBX4000 appliance, which consists of its own homemade software loaded onto an IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) xSeries server, solves most of the problems traditionally associated with different types of replication technologies at a very affordable price (see Kashya Makes Kopies and our report on Data Protection).

How "affordable" is it? Pricing starts at $10,000 for the software in one appliance, and is tiered based on how much data a company wants to replicate. That's a far cry from the $60,000 to $150,000 companies have to hand over for EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) software.

Kashya, founded in December 2000, says its appliance plugs into the storage network and offers remote replication and snapshot functions across any distance for heterogeneous servers and storage. Sitting at the juncture between the SAN and the WAN, the KBX4000 provides bidirectional replication over native IP interfaces, without the need for edge connects or protocol converters, the company claims.

While there are already plenty of more established players in the replication market, Kashya says that, unlike most high-end subsystem-based replication products from companies like EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and IBM, its KBX4000 can replicate from high-end storage at the primary site to cheaper storage at subsequent sites.It doesn’t matter what servers or what storage you have,” says Mehran Hadipour, Kashya’s VP of product marketing. This allows companies to slash their replication costs, he insists, claiming that the appliance offers better performance than a typical host-based replication solution, since it sits out of band and doesn’t drain resources from the host server.

In fact, Kashya contends the appliance can offer performance as high as the subsystem-based products, but at a fraction of the price. One of its main cost-saving measures is bandwidth reduction, the company claims. It achieves this through techniques like algorithmic compression and delta differential, which entails only sending changed bytes of data, instead of sending whole data blocks each time a byte changes.

There are, of course, other network-based replication products already on the market that offer similar performance and cost savings, including products from companies like FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC) and DataCore Software Corp. Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja, however, says that Kashya has a few features that set it apart. For starters, he says, the company’s technology allows systems administrators to set up policies determining which applications should be prioritized and which can stand to be replicated at a slower pace.

“This gives me the ability as a systems administrator to say that these are the things I want to replicate and that Application 1 is the most important,” he says. “I can say: ‘Prioritize the hell out of it. Give it whatever bandwidth it needs.' ”

In addition, the KBX4000 also enables administrators to set up consistency across databases. This means that all data across a certain portion of a database will be updated at the same time to ensure that all of the information the user sees is consistent. “To the best of my knowledge, that’s a unique feature,” Taneja says.Kashya is planning to start shipping the new appliance on October 1, and currently has seven beta customers that it hopes will sign on as paying customers next month, Hadipour says.

The company suggests that customers buy at least two appliances for each site for failover. A pair of appliances can handle between 10 and 15 Tbytes of storage, Hadipour says.

Despite the cost-differences, Kashya, which is Aramaic for “riddle” or “difficult problem,” may need all its puzzle-solving skills to figure out how to convince companies to turn down the big-name brands and try their luck with a track-recordless startup.

“The biggest negative for them and the other companies dealing with larger companies that recognize that data is their lifeblood, is that they generally are very concerned about doing business with a startup,” Taneja says. “All of these startups are going to need to forge very strong partnerships with large companies to give them more credibility.”

Hadipour admits that breaking into an already crowded market will probably be tough to begin with. “We’re working with OEMs and resellers to have them open the market for us,” he says, adding that the company hopes to soon announce at least one OEM agreement. The company also hopes its partnership with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) should help boost its business (see Kashya to Run on Brocade).In addition, Hadipour says, Kashya will allow a company to run its appliance in its SAN for a week for free with the replication feature turned off. “For a week, it will just create reports and offer recommendations for how to do the replication. That’s another way of getting us in through the door.”

Kashya has received two rounds of funding to date and has enough cash to last it through the fourth quarter next year, according to Hadipour. The company employs about 40 people, most of whom work in research and development. Once the company starts shipping its appliances next month, Hadipour says, it expects to ramp its salesforce.

— Eugénie Larson, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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