Sepaton's Got Virtual Tape

New name, new product, new CEO; Sepaton's restacked its deck and hopes for better luck

December 9, 2003

3 Min Read
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Whats in a name? In the case of Sepaton Inc., it’s a new identity and a fresh start for a company that probably felt cursed under its old name.

The Southborough, Mass.-based startup today announced the S2100 virtual tape library appliance, which it first demonstrated last May when the company called itself SANgate Systems Inc (see SANgate Tries Again).

Mike Worhach joined the firm as CEO in September and began looking for a new name. “We found almost every name was taken,” Worhach says, “but the significance of Sepaton is backwards it spells ‘No tapes.’ ” [Ed. note: Tihson?!]

Maybe that’s the app-backwards way of marketing an integrated disk backup-and-recovery system designed to make backups easier by eliminating the need for tape. Sepaton claims its appliance allows customers to perform backups at 10 times the speed of tape while cutting the cost. The S210 ships in configurations from 3.5 Tbytes to 200 Tbytes, with list pricing starting at $58,000. The appliance’s software allows it to emulate tape libraries and formats so customers can perform backup-and-restore the same way they’re doing it now -- only faster.

Worhach says the appliance is certified with software from Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS), Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO), BakBone Software Inc. (Toronto: BKB), CommVault Systems Inc., and IBM Tivoli. The new CEO says Sepaton has 12 resellers lined up and several paying customers, including Harvard University and Northeastern University.Still, Sepaton is playing catchup against Diligent Technologies Corp., Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK), which already have virtual tape libraries and disk-based backup systems that emulate tape. Sepaton is counting on doing it better because of its Enhanced Replication Engine that can emulate a variety of tape libraries simultaneously.

“It can emulate all popular tape libraries,” Worhach says. “You can get it out of the box and up and running in minutes. Customers don’t have to retrain their staff."

A company spokesman says Sepaton’s name change signifies a “new focus,” but it might be more of a curse-breaker. As SANgate, the company went through a series of CEO changes, laid off 26 employees at its Israel R&D facility earlier this year, and suffered through poor sales with its first data migration appliance (see SANgate Loses Third CEO and SANgate Shuts Israel R&D).

On the upside, in March, Sepaton closed a $4.7 million round with Jerusalem Venture Partners

and is looking for more funding. It's also got a new approach to the market, one that at least one analyst thinks is the right one.

Mike Peterson, president of Strategic Research Corp., says SANgate's previous product was "the wrong product, wrong market," and the virtual tape library fills a need to shrink backup windows."It plays into the No. 1 storage problem, and people are spending money on it," Peterson says.

A recent Byte and Switch poll proves him right. The November survey found 41 percent of respondents expect to introduce disk backup to augment their tape infrastructures, and another 16 percent said they expect to replace tape with disk backup systems. One third said they expect to deploy disk backup within the next six months (see Backup Still a Pain in the Neck).

Sepaton's also got Worhach, who brings 30 years of industry experience, most recently at the Data General division of EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). If he makes the company a winner, maybe the neighboring Boston Red Sox will hire Worhach as a curse-buster. He might start by changing their name to Seeknayon.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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