Startup StoneFly moves from networking to storage

A former networking vendor has shifted gears by moving its focus from director-class networking products to the world of iSCSI and storage networking.

When you get up to the line of scrimmage and don't like the looks of the technology playing field, what do you do?

Change your market play.

When StoneFly Networks, Inc. was initially funded, it set out with high hopes of attacking the networking world with its director-class IP product. But after status-checking the market last year it became evident to Vice President of Marketing Jeffrey Schnabel that storage networking held more promise.

"Our goal [now] is to build simple, affordable IP-based SANs," said Schnabel.

''If IP SAN architectures are going to take off the message needs to be affordability and simplicity," he said. "If the servers at the low end aren't able to support IP, it won't succeed."

StoneFly's product, the Storage Concentrator, uses iSCSI to communicate to all the hosts in a SAN. The back end storage uses Parallel SCSI, iSCSI and FC, Schnabel said. The approach supports all legacy architectures.

The Storage Concentrator is, in other words, an iSCSI router and bridge device with volume management and provisioning capabilities built into the appliance. This creates a virtual environment that masks all the physical attributes of storage hardware in a given environment.

StoneFly launched its line of Storage Concentrators based on its Stone Fusion operating system and management technology. The first Storage Concentrators, the i1000 and i1500, let users to turn an IP network into a storage network, StoneFly said.

Randy Kerns, senior analyst for Colorado-based analyst firm the Evaluator Group, Inc., said the Storage Concentrators fit into environments where storage professionals are hard to come by.

Kerns said the Storage Concentrator is a virtualization solution that is really a storage networking appliance with very simple administration and even simpler installation.

"[StoneFly] understands what market segment they're attacking and the requirements necessary for that segment. Many vendors, usually startups with venture capitalist money, want to attack the entire market and especially the high end, but really can't play there. StoneFly understands very well what market they fit into and have built their product to answer those requirements," said Kerns.

StoneFly has also had a hand in standards development. The company is a member of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and is also the founding member of the IP Storage Institute (IPSI), along with Cisco, IBM, InfoStor Magazine, Intel, and SNIA's IP Storage Forum. The company is also a long-standing member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

StoneFly sells its family of Storage Concentrators through its channel partners and OEMs.

The i1000 will sell for about $7000, while the i1500 will list for $9000.

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

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