Spinnaker sets sail with second funding round

Spinnaker Networks is tossing its hat into a market crowded with the EMC's and NetApps of the world. The company has raised more than $50 million to back its NAS technology and plans to ship products later this year.

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Network-attached storage newcomer Spinnaker Networks Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., announced Monday that it has raised $31 million in its Series B funding round, bringing its total to more than $50 million in venture capital investments in two years.

The second round of funding included backing from Mellon Ventures Inc., with GIC Special Investments (GIC SI) also joining as a new investor. Repeat investors Menlo Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners, also participated in the funding round.

While Spinnaker has been tight-lipped about its NAS technology, Ron Bianchini, Spinnaker's president and CEO, said its architecture will solve storage management and scalability issues for enterprise IT organizations.

"We shine when you start buying a lot of boxes and tie them together," said Bianchini.

Spinnaker's distributed architecture lets customers tie multiple NAS servers together, which creates a large, linearly scaled server managed as a single storage resource through one interface. The principle is simple: One interface equals less time spent on management.

Bianchini said Spinnaker's design is different than Network Appliance Inc.'s. "When you put a bunch of NetApp boxes together you end up with multiple servers with independent pieces of the data. This means a bunch of independent server images to manage," he said. "If you have three or four Spinnaker servers, you have one linearly scaling server to manage."

Arun Taneja, senior analyst, the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said Spinnaker's team has distributed file systems expertise, which is at the heart of any NAS virtualization play.

The downside, said Taneja, is a crowded market that is just going to get worse.

"In my view they have as good a shot as anyone," he said. "The primary market issue I see is that, in spite of the fact that I am very bullish on NAS growth rates for the next three years, there are too many players that are entering the market."

Spinnaker will need to fight hoards of others that may or may not have product superiority, Taneja said.

"It will come down to a sales and marketing game. Regardless, the end user wins once the dust settles," he said.

Spinnaker Networks' NAS servers are currently in beta testing and will be shipped later this year.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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