YottaYotta Adds to Saga

EMC may be sniffing at the ever-mysterious Edmonton, Alberta startup

May 4, 2006

3 Min Read
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A small puff of signal smoke has gathered over grid computing's silent startup, YottaYotta -- and this time, the source may be more than incinerated cash.

EMC has acknowledged, in a backhanded way, investing in the Edmonton, Alberta-based YottaYotta. Early this week, in a job posting on the Website of personnel consultancy BrassRing, EMC noted that its newly formed Grid Business Unit will be based on technology from the acquisition of Acxiom Corp. and its investment in the distributed caching technology of YottaYotta.

While confirming its investment in YottaYotta, EMC would not comment on when or how much it has invested in the startup since its founding in January 2000. Indeed, once EMC PR saw the want ad, the wording was revised to eliminate mention of the startup. But one source, who worked at YottaYotta for awhile, says the investment is likely small and that it took place early this year.

"EMC has not disclosed the amount, but I would guess it's not more than a couple of million dollars," says analyst William Hurley of the Data Mobility Group. He believes the investment took place around January 2006.

Hurley, who worked as an information architect at YottaYotta for two years between 2001 and 2003, says it's reasonable to ask whether EMC would buy YottaYotta, but he doesn't think it's likely at present. "The technology works, but the manageability is still immature," he notes.Hurley says YottaYotta's focus is on something called geographic cache coherence and stretch clustering. YottaYotta has created a pizza-box device, the GSX 3000, that can sustain synchronous replication of data clusters, even if they are large and thousands of miles apart. It has demonstrated the box with partners like SGI. (See YottaYotta Intros Node and SGI, YottaYotta Team Up.)

YottaYotta has changed course a couple of times. Until 2003, the firm billed itself as a developer of massively parallel networked storage. But after the success of 3PAR and demise of several would-be competitors in the space, YottaYotta apparently retrenched to ensure survival.

By May 2003, the board had new funding, bringing its total to about $66 million, a new CEO -- ex-Lucent optical networking entrepreneur Bart Shigemura -- and a new mission, loosely termed "global data sharing."

The new approach allows plenty of leeway for various approaches to marketing YottaYotta's technology. For instance, as a purveyor of highly resilient grid storage, the company has been able to offer a couple of customer announcements in government and research for public viewing. (See YottaYotta Lands $26M, Does YottaYotta Gotta Lotta Cash?, YottaYotta Gotta Customer, YottaYotta's Gotta Problem, YottaYotta Notta Corpse Yet, and YottaYotta's Gotta Lotta.)

YottaYotta director of marketing Robert Handlovsky insists things are shaping up at the firm. He says that within the next six weeks, there will be news on partnerships and other things. And he affirms claims made by CTO Wayne Karpoff in the Canadian press that YottaYotta grew revenues tenfold in 2005 and plans to grow then sevenfold or more this year."We have 25 installations," Handlovsky notes. That means 25 distinct sites where customers may have more than one product installed. Customers include the U.S. Department of Defense and Canada's WestGrid research network.

The question now is what role YottaYotta will play, if any, in EMC's grid strategy. (See EMC Unveils Grid Gameplan.)

"[YottaYotta] has been very quiet as of the past few years and had some good intellectual property, so it would make sense that someone leverage that," writes another analyst, Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst of the StorageIO consultancy, in an email. He too has not sensed that YottaYotta might become an EMC acquisition, but wouldn't rule it out: "[I]f there is some good and useful IP that can be added to the arsenal and the price is right, it would make sense," he notes.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Data Mobility Group

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU)

  • SGI

  • YottaYotta Inc.0

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