3 min read

NeoPath looks north

File management appliance maker about to search for Canadian VARs

NeoPath Networks, an American startup specializing in file management appliances, is preparing a Canadian invasion.

The Mountain View, Calif., company says it will shortly begin looking for VARs in this country to carry its two products, including a new blade server, initially in four cities.

But before dusting off the welcome mat, you should know that preference will be given to Network Appliance resellers. That’s because NeoPath has a close relationship with NetApp, which makes what it believes are complimentary storage devices.

Company officials talked about expanding their channel ambitions as NeoPath this week launched version 2.0 of its SmartTouch software that runs on its new File Director 7200 blade server and File Director 220, a 2U rack appliance. Prices for both units, which are based on Dell servers running Linux, start at US$45,000.

“We’re just now starting the push northward,” said NeoPath CEO Alan Baratz, who said the first targets will be NetApp VARs. “We have a good working relationship with Network Appliance,” he said, “a very close field relationship – we share leads, we open up opportunities with each other.”

In fact NeoPath’s chief operating officer, Ali Zadeh, who helped set up NetApp’s channel program, jumped to Baratz’s company four months ago. Until then the firm, which has been selling its appliances for only 18 months, had been selling direct. The plan now is to have its field staff help partners and sell completely through the channel.

As part of that plan the field staff has been expanding since Zadeh’s arrival. While the manager of the U.S. mid-west region will have responsibility for Canada, Zadeh will be involved. “I’m going to talk to NetApp partners in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and ask who would be the right partner we can go after,” he said. He’s also looking for a partner in either Calgary or Edmonton to specifically go after customers in Alberta’s oil patch.

He hopes to have at least one signed in each city by the end of the year.

That’s not the company’s only strategy. Baratz also hopes to announce an OEM agreement with an unnamed company three months from now “which will take us international.”

That will likely lead to NeoPath being coupled with another server provider. While Dell technology is being used because many early U.S. customers had its servers in their data centres, Zadeh said NeoPath’s strategy is to have its software on commodity equipment.

In addition, he added, “we also have an investment from Cisco Systems, and they’re becoming a very close go-to-market partner.” (That investment, announced in May, was part of a US$11 million round of venture financing from several firms.) However, he added that relationship will take four to six months to mature.

When asked why a reseller would sign with NeoPath, Zadeh said product margins will be “20 to 30 points.”

NeoPath says its software offers speedy file migration and policy-based file management of unstructured data, built around a plug-and-play appliance. In Zadeh’s words, “you give it an IP address and its up and running.” Because SmartTouch’s file virtualization decouples the relationship between the file directory and its physical location, files can be moved around to optimize storage without impacting users, said Baratz.

SmartTouch 2.0 now supports 64-bit versions of Linux, so it can make full use of memory and processor power in File Director units. Its virtualization architecture has also been streamlined. But it will be File Director 7200 and its blades that will take best advantage of the new software’s power, said Baratz. It can migrate files 10 times faster than a system with the previous version of SmartTouch, he said, and migrate “tens of millions of files a day.”

The File Director 7200’s 7U chassis can hold up to 10 blades and support up to 40 Ethernet ports. File Director 220 can hold up to six 146 GB Ultra SCSI hard drives and six 100/1000 Ethernet ports.