I received a tip from a reader yesterday that Crosswalk, a company I wrote about last year, has closed its doors.

I’ve called Crosswalk to confirm. I hope the tip is wrong, but many of the early players in the company have moved on already, which is rarely a good sign.

After describing their clustered NAS head for HPC I concluded with:

The StorageMojo take
Crosswalk, founded by Jack McDonnell, who had good success with McData, with CTO Raju Bopardikar, formerly of ill-fated Cereva, certainly has the bones for success. They’ve done a number of important things right: no host software; no custom silicon; commodity hardware; partnering where possible; horizontal scaling. This puts them ahead of getting-long-in-the-tooth startup BlueArc.

The High Performance Computing (HPC) focus is questionable. My experience is that folks who start with HPC stay there, because each HPC customer has so many interesting requirements that engineers love to solve and that will never make a dime for the company. Performance-driven customers ask for all kinds of enhancements that most commercial customers will never notice. So I wish them luck expanding past that market.

Another concern: the Denver location. STK culture – mainframe, big iron, slow to adapt – looms so large in storage circles there that there really haven’t been many successful storage startups. Jack overcame that at McData, although you might recall that McData sold mainframe ESCON directors to IBM for years before getting into, and largely outmaneuvered in, the Fibre Channel market. Does Crosswalk really want to go after the big NetApp and EMC NAS boxes?

Crosswalk has the potential to upset the current NAS players. Yet I think they’ll need a stronger cost argument in addition to cool technology. Fortunately their architecture gives them lots of options. I wish them luck.

Comments welcome. Anyone have any first-hand knowledge of what happened?