Tek-Tools Debuts -- Again

Can a small, brand-new SRM company make a mark in today's market?

November 14, 2001

3 Min Read
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Storage software startup Tek-Tools Inc. emerged in Dallas on Tuesday, announcing that it's shipping the industry's first” Web-based storage resource management (SRM) application (see Tek-Tools Proffers Profiler).

Storage Profiler 1.1 lets businesses more efficiently manage their servers, databases, and storage devices in a multivendor environment, Tek-Tools officials said. It lets users view current and projected disk capacity, along with statistics on CPU, memory, network, and disk performance -- all in a browser.

There are two parts to the Java-based software tool: a package that resides on a central server to gather data from multiple devices and servers in order to build reports; and agent software that resides on all the remote servers that need to be monitored. SNMP is used to provide basic alerts from storage arrays attached to the servers. The central server package communicates with all the remote agents via Ethernet. From a browser, an adminstrator can look into the server and get an update on what all the remote devices are doing.

“People spend hours meshing spreadsheets together from various servers and storage devices -- Storage Profiler eliminates this,” says Jill Huntington-Lee, VP of marketing for Tek-Tools.

Customers seem to be benefiting from the product. "These features are extremely valuable to us,” says Robert Mullins, systems coordinator at Nahan Printing Inc. This company has over 3.5 terabytes of storage spread over multiple servers, a storage area network, and different disk arrays. “Storage Profiler allows us to evaluate, manage, report, and anticipate issues with storage space and server reliability on our network,” Mullins says.Small to medium-sized companies like Nahan Printing are where Tek-Tools plans to concentrate its resources. “These companies can’t afford to spend half a million dollars on Unicenter [from Computer Associates International] to get a report, and they don’t have the internal expertise to use it anyway,” says Huntington-Lee.

Tek-Tools claims it has the edge on other SRM players, such as TrelliSoft Inc. and Highground (acquired by Sun Microsystems Inc. [Nasdaq: SUNW]), because its software resides on the storage server rather than the client. This gives it location independence, enabling an administrator on the road to tap into the tool from any Web browser. The startup also claims its software runs faster than client-based applications, although this hasn't been tested.

So far, the product runs on servers under Sun Solaris, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows NT and Windows 2000, Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) NetWare, and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL).

As noted, Storage Profiler can track the status of any storage array that supports SNMP. The next version, expected mid-2002, will also collect vendor-specific data from storage arrays made by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), the company said.

Actually, this is Tek-Tools' second run as a startup. Founded in 1996, the company started out with Kawa, an XML tool. Kawa was a hit, attracting 50,000 customers. The product was eventually bought by Allaire for $9 million. Tek-Tools channeled this money into building its Storage Profiler.Tek-Tools has about 20 employees today and plans to stay small and nimble while it builds up the momentum around its product. It has about six months grace before it will be relying solely on revenue from the product or VC funding, should any be interested.

The concept behind Storage Profiler seems sound. But nothing's guaranteed in a market where competitors are also ramping up with an eye to the main chance. Tek-Tools is challenged to ramp up sales, or get extra financing, before it runs out of money.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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