Storage Startup Cohesity Appoints Ex-NetApp CEO To Board, Former Nicira CEO Joins As Adviser

Cohesity, a startup led by Nutanix co-founder Mohit Aron that came out of stealth in June, in the past week has brought in two high-profile executives to help in its quest to revolutionize the secondary storage market.

Dan Warmenhoven, former CEO and executive chairman at NetApp, has joined Cohesity's board of directors, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup said Monday. Warmenhoven left NetApp in September 2014 and was also previously a board member at Aruba Networks, now part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Steve Mullaney, former CEO of Nicira, the software-defined networking startup that VMware acquired in 2012 and is now the basis for its NSX technology, joined Cohesity last week as an independent adviser.

[Related: Ex-VMware vCloud Air Sales Chief Joins Storage Startup Run By Nutanix Co-Founder]

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Cohesity focuses on secondary storage, or data that's stored in devops and analytics environments as opposed to being used in production networks. The startup is aiming to replicate the benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure -- which combines compute, storage and networking on x86 hardware -- for secondary storage.

In an interview Tuesday, Warmenhoven said he joined Cohesity's board because it's not a direct competitor to NetApp, and because it's in a space with lots of room for growth.

"Cohesity has a very innovative approach to what has been a challenging problem: the issue of backup and recovery and data management outside of core production," Warmenhoven told CRN. "There has not been a lot of innovation here in this space."

Aaron Cardenas, CEO and founder of P1 Technologies, a Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based Cohesity partner, worked at NetApp for several years and described Warmenhoven as "a consummate professional and capable leader."

"Dan always brings a certain culture and a high level of professionalism to his companies," Cardenas said.

One of Cohesity's biggest selling points, according to Cardenas, is that it helps companies phase out backup software. "The fact that we can have a storage device that doesn't require backup software brings incredible value, especially as data sets get bigger and bigger," he said.

Mullaney, who left VMware in 2014 and is also a board member at Metaswitch Networks, said he also sees plenty of growth potential in the secondary storage market.

"Secondary storage is a huge pain and it's getting bigger and more painful," Mullaney said in an email. "Conditions are ripe for transformation, and this market represents a big opportunity."

Cohesity, which has landed $70 million since its founding in 2013, has attracted a number of other well-known industry veterans.

Riccardo Di Blasio, former vice president of sales and marketing for VMware's vCloud Air public cloud service, joined in October as chief operating officer and head of field operations. Randy Seidl, the former EMC, HP and Sun Microsystems sales executive, is a member of Cohesity's adviser team.