NetApp Exec Moves To Scalable Storage Startup

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Sajai Krishnan this month became the CEO of Parascale, a Cupertino, Calif.-based startup developer of software that turns an industry-standard Linux server into a node for a scalable solution for storing large volumes of data on-line.

Parascale this week also said it closed on its Series A round of funding, giving it $11.37 million, enough to last through the end of 2009, Krishnan said.

Krishnan until three weeks ago was a five-year veteran of NetApp, Sunnyvale, Calif., where he spearheaded that company's StoreVault business unit.

NetApp introduced the entry-level StoreVault storage appliances over two years ago, and set up a separate business group with its own channel to handle the product line. However, the company has recently brought the StoreVault business back within the NetApp-branded businesses, including the 800 or so StoreVault solution providers, of which about 90 percent were in the U.S.

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"StoreVault is now part of the mother ship," Krishnan said. "The entire NetApp team is now selling everything. It was a separate company. But it's easier to work with as part of one company. Then (Parascale) came up. It's a good opportunity. Even with the coming recession."

The Parascale software works with any industry server, and includes industry-standard NFS and HTTP protocols so that it can be dropped into any environment, Krishnan said. When a server is so-configured, it becomes a node in a scalable architecture.

"There's no need for special hardware, and no need for the administrators to learn new techniques," he said. "You can throw it onto an out-of-warranty server, run it 'til the server dies, and it then moves automatically to a new node."

The software combined with a commodity server results in a scalable storage architecture that sells for between $0.50 and $0.75 per Gbyte, Krishnan said.

It is aimed at such verticals as movie archiving, where a typical film with all the production footage and outtakes can take up to 50 Tbytes of capacity and generate up to 1 billion files, Krishnan said. "Today, this is all archived to tape," he said. "Parascale can substitute for tape. A movie can take hundreds of tapes."

It is also suitable for genetic research, which requires huge amounts of scalable storage, Krishnan said. "We have a local professor testing our product," he said. "He recently had a $500,000 grant for genomic research, and used $450,000 of it for tier-one storage. Next time, he may need only $50,000 for the storage."

The Parascale software is currently undergoing trial runs, and is expected to be available in a few months, Krishnan said.

He is currently recruiting solution providers who he said should find this to be an easy sell, especially since customers can use old existing servers to run the software.

"I'm a channel bigot," he said. "This is not going to be a direct sale."