Tacit Turns Up CEO

File-caching startup taps Greg Grodhaus, ex-CEO of Inrange, to start making some noise

June 4, 2003

4 Min Read
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File-caching startup Tacit Networks Inc. has recruited Greg Grodhaus as president and CEO, hoping his 34 years in the technology industry will help it land some enterprise-size sales (see Tacit Hires CEO).

Grodhaus previously was CEO of Inrange Technologies, which has since been acquired by CNT (Nasdaq: CMNT). He takes over for Tacit founder Tim Williams, who will remain chairman of the company (see CNT Walks Off With Inrange and Inrange CEO Exits).

"For about a year I was saying, 'We're the McData or Inrange of this space,' and in walks the guy who took Inrange public," Williams tells Byte and Switch. Before starting Tacit, Williams founded NAS software firm CrosStor Software, which he sold to EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) in November 2000.

Tacit sells storage caching appliances, which the company claims allows files to be encrypted and shared over a WAN as if they were on a LAN. Conceptually, it's similar to Web caching, except that with Tacit's system the cached data is live, meaning users can write to it as well as read it. The system requires two different components: the Tacit Cache Server, which sits in front of a NAS system at the data center, for a list price of $22,500; and the Tacit Cache Appliance, which connects to a Cache Server via a proprietary protocol and serves data to local clients via NFS or CIFS, priced at $21,500 apiece.

"We've passed many months of beta stage. The final version is with the customer base, and we're trying to win some business now," Grodhaus says. So far, Tacit hasn't made any sales; the company wouldn't name customers beta testing the product.Before heading up Inrange, Grodhaus -- who says he's in his "early 50s" -- was CEO of IPL Systems Inc., a storage systems vendor now part of nStor Technologies Inc. (Amex: NSO); senior VP and chief marketing officer for Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY); and VP and general manager of midrange and large storage businesses at Memorex Telex, which is now part of Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS). He received a business degree from Southern Methodist University in 1973.

John Webster, founder of Data Mobility Group, says Grodhaus should help Tacit -- which he says has a strong technology team already -- take the next step in coming to market. "Greg has been in the industry for years," says Webster. "He's a well-traveled man, and he knows the landscape."

Tacit, based in South Plainfield, N.J., has fewer than 30 employees. Grodhaus says, "We're scaling the company upward while minding our expenses." The company received $7.3 million in first-round funding last fall, which he says will take Tacit into mid-2004 (see Tacit Makes Funding Explicit).

Obviously, Tacit isn't alone here: Startups also hunting customers in this space include Actona Technologies Inc., DiskSites Inc., NBT Technology Inc., Radiant Data Corp., and Storigen Systems Inc. (see Radiant Data Goes It Alone, Is NBT the Inktomi of Storage?, EMC Eyes File-Caching Startups).

But Williams says Tacit stands out from the pack because it's focused on high-scale enterprise sites -- and has the performance to play in that segment. "Do you want to be in small workgroups and scale to enterprise users? It's difficult to do both at the same time."Tacit's caching appliances are able to deliver files over a WAN with just "a few percentage points of overhead" and can scale to hundreds of users per cache, Williams claims. "If you only need to connect up a few offices with 10 or 15 people, you're not to look at us."

Hmmm... and Tacit can do this even though its appliances are based on PCs? Yes, Williams avows: "The PC architecture is to keep the price competitive... We have a server appliance that sits in front of the highest-end file servers in the data center."

Can this Jersey crew deliver on its promises? We're eager to see whether it can cache some customers, now that it's got a veteran tech executive in the driver's seat.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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