Ron Bianchini and Michael Kazar started Spinnaker Network Solutions, which was acquired by NetApp in November 2003 for $300m. Spinnaker’s flagship product was SpinServer, a clustered file system that allowed 512 servers to provide 11,000 terabytes (11 petabytes!) to appear as a single file system. By many accounts, SpinServer “was a dead product once NetApp got a hold of it”, and many users reported a complete lack of support for the product.
In 2008, Ron and Michael started a new company, Avere Systems. Avere is still in semi-stealth mode, revealing only that they are developing “NAS solutions that would allow enterprises to scale storage network performance independently of capacity.” Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing, said they weren’t ready to talk, but StorageMojo did some digging which may help shed some light.
The title of their SNW talk SSD or HDD? How to Get the Benefits of Both with Dynamic Tiering offers some clues.
At the web site they have a picture of what might be a 2-3u rackmount box. So they aren’t a strict software play, although “tin-wrapped” software is something many customers find appealing.
They are also showing at SC09, the supercomputing show. That suggests a focus on bandwidth rather than IOPS as well as the less lucrative research markets.
Avere has already raised a whopping $15m in November 2008 from Norwest and Menlo Ventures, both of which had previously invested in Spinnaker. (Both of these firms list Avere in their portfolio, but this amount hasn’t been disclosed to my knowledge outside of the SEC filing).
Obviously, given their industry experience and past success, it’s not a surprise that Ron and Michael were able to raise a significant sum of money. At the same time, this is a lot of money for a Series A and certainly suggests to me that the idea has a hardware component to it (that is, something more than just off-the-rack NAS storage).
The Register believes that they have “developed a system which attempts to combine the performance of solid state drives with the low cost of hard disk drives in an architecture that dynamically tiers data onto the most appropriate media”. That said, I don’t see much evidence for this beyond what StorageMojo dug up – so that’s probably just a guess, albeit an educated one.
So, what is Avere up to?