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Startup Offers Storage Solution Based on Standard Servers
Posted February 18, 2015
Startup Offers Storage Solution Based on Standard Servers
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By Dan Heilman. Updated February 18, 2015 1:29PM

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The operational team working in stealth mode as Storvisor is now out in the open with a new name and big-time backers. Springpath is a Sunnyvale, California-based startup founded by a group of VMware veterans. The company made its official debut this week, outlining plans for its unique software-defined storage platform that isn’t tied to any specific hardware.

The new company has been funded to the tune of $34 million by New Enterprise Associates, Redpoint Ventures, and Sequoia Capital. Springpath aims to provide storage and data management software that promises reliable and scalable storage services. The basic approach is to remove enterprises’ reliance on capital-intensive hardware.

The software-only platform, sold on a subscription basis, runs on standard servers and decouples data from the application layer. The software is not tied to any particular platform, hardware or application.

Based on that, the company refers to the software as independent infrastructure, based on what it calls HALO architecture, short for Hardware Agnostic Log-structured Objects. The architecture is built from the bottom up based on different pieces of intellectual property.

Open Market

When we reached Henry Baltazar, senior analyst for Serving Infrastructure and Operations Professionals at Forrester, he said the market Springpath is entering could be wide open.

"Software-defined storage (SDS) is still a developing market, and no one is dominating the space," Baltazar told us. "This is a good area for startups such as Springpath to disrupt traditional storage vendors who have large-array businesses that could be disrupted by SDS."

A lot of storage centers are still using technology from the 1990s, meaning enterprises often have to deal with inflexible silos. Springpath hopes that storage arrays will soon be replaced by software-defined storage with commodity servers underneath.

Both of Springpath's co-founders, Mallik Mahalingam and Krishna Yadappanavar, were formerly with VMware. Mahalingam spent about a decade as principal engineer at VMware, where he worked on projects including vSphere Networking and storage IO. Prior to that he spent four years as researcher at HP Labs. Yadappanavar was at VMware about eight years. Both helped pioneer technology including the network virtualization system Virtual Extensible LAN and Virtual Machine File System, the most-widely deployed file system in VMware environments. Mahalingam is also the CEO of the new company. The two left VMware in 2012.

"The VMware pedigree helps," Baltazar said. "I'm sure it was a factor in their fundraising and also in their initial partnerships, which were built while they were still in stealth."

Many Clients

Already, Springpath has technology partnerships in place with not only VMware, but also OpenStack and Docker. Springpath Data Platform for VMware vSphere has been in beta for over a year, and became available in January 2015 on a subscription basis. The company also is working with vendors including Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. It runs on those companies’ servers, which it says yields cloud-like economics, scale and simplicity. Springpath also announced a distribution agreement with Tech Data. That pact will give solution providers access to servers preloaded with its software.

"Today's data centers are forced to choose inflexible and expensive silos of dedicated appliances, converged systems and arrays to meet their data storage needs," Mahalingam said in a statement. "Modern data centers require a versatile and elastic data platform software that runs on a common hardware infrastructure based on standard servers and supports the data management needs of virtualized, containerized, big data and other emerging environments."

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