Siafu Software is not your ordinary startup.
Founded in 2005, the developer of storage appliances, low-cost data protection and encryption discovered instant credibility thanks to the history of John Matze, president and CEO. Poway, Calif.-based Siafu staked its claim to an instant channel base because of the experience its solution providers had with Matze in his previous ventures.
Matze's history goes back several years when he was one of the developers of the iSCSI protocol. His first company, Okapi Software, introduced one of the first iSCSI storage appliances in August 2002. Okapi was acquired in 2003 by San Diego-based Overland Storage, where Matze, while serving as vice president and CTO, led the development of Overland's REO line of disk-based backup appliances.
Over the years, Matze has built a reputation for being a friend to the channel.
"I'd follow John anywhere," said John Zammet, president of HorizonTek, a storage solution provider in Huntington, N.Y. "I consider him one of the most trustworthy, intelligent people anywhere. He brought a lot of revenue to my company with Okapi and then with the Overland REO."
Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a Cleveland-based storage solution provider, said that in addition to being a channel-friendly executive, Matze also understands the customer.
"John talks to the customer," Knieriemen said. "When you look at a company like EMC, it talks its ILM [information life-cycle management] vision, not so much around the customer but with the aim of selling more storage. John designs products for the customer."
Matze, being a pioneer in iSCSI, brings a lot of knowledge to a startup like Siafu, Knieriemen said. And that is important when trying to sell customers on products from a company they typically have not previously known.
Siafu was originally formed to develop an appliance to encrypt data in line between a backup server and disk libraries, Matze said. However, shortly after founding Siafu, Matze met Bahman "BJ" Jalali, founder of Tripylon, which had developed an iSCSI target software to run on top of the Windows operating system, and Siafu acquired that company.
As a result of that acquisition, Siafu's first product was the Swarm series of iSCSI appliances, which the company started shipping 12 months ago. "BJ had been working on it for two years," Matze said. "We put a cardboard wrapper around it and shipped it."
The most recent versions of the Swarms, released about two months ago, are 1U devices with capacities of either 1 Tbyte, 2 Tbytes or 3 Tbytes.
For Matze, the channel is the only way to go to market. "I got introduced to the channel when I worked at Veritas back in 2000," he said. "They had a real nice channel relationship. I've made a career of taking care of my resellers," he added. "They know it."