Ex-Cisco exec’s new start-up accelerates data access

Ex-Cisco storage executive Mark Cree is back with a new vendor called Storspeed, which has built a caching product that accelerates access to frequently needed data.

Storspeed, founded in February 2007, has $16 million in venture funding and is emerging from stealth mode Thursday. Storspeed’s SP5000 is a 2U box containing 80GB of DRAM and up to a terabyte of solid-state disk that sits between networked storage and clients and applications.

The fundamental problem targeted by Storspeed is that only a small fraction of data is active at any given time, and enterprises needlessly store too much inactive data on expensive Tier 1 storage systems. Storspeed’s system inspects every packet to identify the active application data set and accelerates that data. The SP5000 can work with multiple vendors’ storage systems simultaneously, and doesn’t require any changes to existing infrastructure, Cree says.

“We insert invisibly between storage and clients,” Cree says. “There are literally no changes to the applications.”

Each 2U node can perform 350,000 input/output operations per second, and a cluster of six nodes brings that up to 2 million IOPS, Cree says. Each box costs $65,000 and up, but Storspeed says it can save customers hundreds of thousands of dollars by preventing the overprovisioning of Fibre Channel drives and taking advantage of low-cost SATA disks.

Cree is the CEO of Storspeed and co-founded the company with Greg Dahl, vice president of business development.

Cree previously founded NuSpeed Internet Systems, an iSCSI storage company purchased by Cisco in 2000 for $450 million. Cree stayed on at Cisco to lead the company’s entry into the storage networking market as general manager of its storage router business unit, but ultimately left Cisco in January 2003.

Cree then joined El Dorado Ventures and Vesbridge Partners to focus on investment in networking, Web services and security companies. El Dorado and Vesbridge are now among four firms bankrolling Storspeed, the others being Hunt Ventures and Palomar Ventures.

The SP5000 is generally available now and has been installed at nine customer sites, mainly Fortune 500 companies, according to Storspeed. The product is ideal for virtualized data centers and any type of application that requires fast data access, company officials say.

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