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Top 10 Storage Startups to Watch

The Byte and Switch staff presents its quarterly list of notable newbies

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By the Editors, Byte and Switch — July 7, 2008 Summer. The time for grilling, lazing on the beach, and topping up that tan. Sadly, we´re not that fortunate here at Byte and Switch towers, where the last few weeks have been spent trawling and poking our way through a fresh crop of storage startups.

Yes, that´s right. Once again, we have readied a list of the storage startups we think are most watchable. Tech sector IPOs may be few and far between in these challenging economic times, but, as our latest list shows, there is no shortage of innovation going on in storageland.

Spanning the worlds of online backup, solid state disks (SSDs), 10Gbase-T, and even eco-friendly hosted storage, the latest up-and-comers are all touting new approaches to storing data. As storage managers wrestle with ever-expanding volumes of data and increasingly tight budgets, we have identified the startups that we think might just offer that extra something in the data center.

As many of the vendors on the list prove with their early customer traction, funding, and strategic partnerships, there is ample opportunity for innovative firms to get a foothold in the storage market, even while the macro-economic outlook remains bleak.

Some of the firms on our new list are already being touted as acquisition bait, whereas others are discussing their lofty IPO ambitions, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these startups.

As we've done for more than two years now, we present this as an entirely fresh list. And we intend to follow up later to see how we did. (Check out our hindsight self-reviews of our first, second, and third lists of startups).

Just as in our previous lists, we have not ranked our winners in any way except alphabetically, eschewing any hint of preferential order.

Inevitably, not everyone will agree with all our picks, but that´s absolutely fine. In fact, we'd love to know what you think. Is there a great startup that slipped through our net? Were we on target? Keep in mind that we update this list every few months, so there´s plenty of time to suggest a firm you think may be worthy of our attention for the next list, in fact, we´d be grateful for your input.

Zmanda, Inc. - Top 10 Storage Startups to Watch

Is open source software the key to long-term success in the storage market? Zmanda, which was founded in June 2005, certainly thinks so, and has built its business on the open source Amanda data backup and recovery system.

Amanda was initially developed at the University of Maryland in 1991, so there are now hundreds of thousands of deployments worldwide. While open source is often associated with Linux, Zmanda offers products and services for companies needing to backup Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac systems as well as databases and applications. Low cost is typically an attraction with open source products, and Zmanda´s two main products Amanda Enterprise and Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL Backup Storage Server have annual subscription prices starting at $20 per desktop and $100 per server. Zmanda also offers backup features for Amazon S3 at a price of 20 cents per Gbyte of storage.

Zmanda, which claims to have 500,000 installations worldwide, has had success with large well known companies: Its services are used by, BabyCenter, Cisco, Travelocity, and Yahoo.

The startup has a modern corporate infrastructure, with about half of its 50 employees stationed in Sunnyvale, Calif., and the rest in Pune, India.

The storage supplier´s business plan attracted $5 million in venture capital and an additional $8 million in Series B financing.

Some of its investors include BlueRun Ventures, Canaan Partners, and Helion Venture Partners, an India based venture capital company. Chander Kant is CEO and founder. Prior to Zmanda, he ran LinuxCertified Inc., an open source product and services company. His storage experience comes from being a business development executive at Veritas and software and product line manager for storage software at SGI. Paddy Sreenivasan, vice president of engineering, and a founder of Zmanda, spent time at Cisco, SGI, and HP.

Data backup and recovery has become a highly competitive market. Zmanda is butting heads with well established suppliers, such as EMC and Symantec, as well as smaller suppliers like Arkeia and BakBone. To date, Zmanda has fared well against the raft of competitors and anticipates that its open source approach will continue to be a popular choice in the future.

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