NetApp buys Bycast

by Robin Harris on Tuesday, 13 April, 2010

NetApp is buying Bycast, the little-known but likely most successful scale-out file storage company. Bycast has several hundred customers, many installed petabytes, leadership in a growing market segment – medical imaging – and a compelling value proposition.

What they didn’t have was market presence. Most of their sales came through OEM deals with IBM and HP, who rebranded Bycast’s software – the Brocade problem.

They also had the common Canadian reluctance to promote themselves. No marketing VP. What marketing efforts they made followed “big company” models – something few small companies can afford.

Their most effective spokesman was their CTO, co-founder and blogger David Slik. Why he got detailed to SNIA committees is a mystery.

The StorageMojo take
This is a brilliant move by NetApp – as long as they execute. They can’t afford another Spinnaker.

Tom Georgens has been putting his stamp on the executive team. What they do with Bycast will be a good first test.

The most interesting angle: Bycast’s replication and resiliency means you don’t need to back up a properly configured cluster. Which means you don’t need Data Domain. Hmm-m-m?

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I did some work for Bycast and I’m a fan of their technology.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Blake Golliher April 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm

This a great win for NetApp. I’ve been asking them for an object storage layer for years, and this is the first credible move they’ve made on this problem. Good for them!

DanB April 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I’ve been looking for their object storage entry since they announced something was coming a while back. Does anyone know how they store metadata? Is it kept in a database like how Archivas does it, the software for the Hitachi Content [Archive] Platform? Should be interesting to see if they do better at integrating this time around unlike how they handled Spinnaker as you said. Thanks.

Robert Pearson April 15, 2010 at 5:23 am

Finally an Information addressing scheme that makes sense and works with existing systems. The ground work is well laid to go where no Information addressing scheme has ever gone before…

If NetApp can execute they will have a big lead on the competition…
A key element will be educating the customers as to what this will buy them.
This is not your “Mom and Pop” Cloud. Neither is it “rocket science”. Think of it as the iPad of Cloud Storage..
I wonder what Hu Yoshida of HDA thinks?

Ronald April 15, 2010 at 11:43 am

NetApp is great at buying companies & killing them…

Spinnaker, Decru, NetCache, Topio & Even Onaro…
They failed to merge into their business every company they bought..

Feel sorry for the ByCast folks that their efforts are likely going to go down the drain

Concerned customer April 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I fear Ronald is spot on. It’s not the NetApp culture to nurture, grow, and improve the businesses they buy – they just sort of toss them in the blender with fingers crossed.

Spinnaker who led the emergence of clusters NAS is a perfect example of the blender effect. Maybe one day GX will deliver close to what Spinnaker had 5 years ago.

Mark April 21, 2010 at 11:35 am

Regarding: “Their most effective spokesman was their CTO, co-founder and blogger David Slik. Why he got detailed to SNIA committees is a mystery.”

Not a mystery to me. David is a major author of the CDMI specification and has helped shape it to Bycast’s (and now NetApp’s) requirements. This gives them a big leg up on implementing this important standard and arguably increased the value of Bycast to NetApp as well.

I have seen many companies send junior folks to standards meetings who cannot hold their own against the high powered architects that more savvy vendors send. To me that is the mystery – why bother?

— mark

Tom November 29, 2010 at 10:32 am

Netapp has proven they can only sell the WAFL file system. This will likely get dragged out or dumped like all their other acquistions.

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