Web-scale flash storage vendor Coho Data signs first disti deal with SYNNEX

While Coho Data’s founders have a heavy XenSource connection, their engineering team has a heavily Canadian one: much of it is based in Vancouver.

Marius Tudor Coho

Marius Tudor, Coho’s VP of channel and business development

Sunnyvale CA-based Coho Data, a web-scale flash storage vendor which has been shipping product for a year, has entered into its first distribution agreement, a North American one with SYNNEX.

Coho Data emerged from stealth in November 2013, and began shipping product in March of 2014.

“The core of the company is from XenSource, which was ultimately acquired by Citrix, and we still have a lot of that Xen DNA,” said Marius Tudor, Coho’s VP of channel and business development. All three co-founders, CEO Ramana Jonnala, CTO Andrew Warfield, and Chief Architect Keir Fraser came through XenSource. Jonnala led the product team at Xensource, Warfield was their Technical Director for Storage and Emerging Technologies, and Fraser was the principal author of the Xen hypervisor.

“We wanted to take this background and apply it to storage, to provide an on-prem private cloud with public cloud efficiencies,” Tudor said. “We let enterprises build their own little Amazon.”

A key here is the Coho Data software-defined technology’s ability to leverage off the shelf commodity hardware in a flash-optimized scale-out enterprise storage solution.

“We are the first to converge onto off-the-shelf commodity hardware in this way,” Tudor said. It lets customers scale both capacity and performance to get the same economic benefits as web-scale datacentres. The storage logic is centralized in a standard OpenFlow 10GbE switch, to avoid multi-hop latency issue that have been problematic in many scale-out architectures.

Built-in CASCADE analytics in Coho’s automated clustering and load balancing features make it exceptionally simple to deploy, and ultimately, expand.

“You can get it up and running in 20 minutes, and scale up to 20 nodes in two hours,” Tudor said. “The cluster will automatically detect a new box, configure everything, and rebalance it all. This can also eliminate data migration forever, which sounds like marketing stuff, but it really works, because you no longer have to upgrade and replace your hardware.”

Coho Data’s technology was built for enterprises, particularly large ones, but they have sold to smaller companies than that.

“Our architectural footprint was designed for large enterprises, but we have seen customers across the board in medium and large enterprise,” Tudor said. “Universities, including the University of British Columbia, public sector, and oil and gas companies have bought it as well. We have competed successfully even in some smaller footprints because of our capability to expand only when needed. That provides future-proofing capability and room for growth as well.”

The company’s engineering is Canada-based.

“Our core engineering team is out of Vancouver,” Tudor said. “Out of 120 people in the company, more than half are based in Vancouver.”

Like most startups, Coho Data sold direct in its evangelical, proof-of concept stage to validate their product, but is bringing the channel in quickly.

“There is a direct enterprise sales team, but we see the channel as an extension of our own sales force, and compensate our own sales people for working with partners,” Tudor said. “The channel is necessary for us to scale. Because we are so easy to get up and running and add on to, it’s very simple to configure, and that’s great for the channel.”

Tudor said that Coho has about 20 partners today, and the goal is to be at about 50 plus by the end of the year.

“A common profile is boutique partners with a storage practice and a VMware practice,” Tudor said. “An Arista-based switch practice is also good.”

Tudor said all the go-to-market pillars for Coho’s channel program are in place now, including compensation, training, deal registration and marketing materials. The last thing to come will be a fully-featured portal, which will be up later this month.

The SYNNEX deal will play a key role in bringing Coho Data’s solution to a broader array of quality partners.

“The deal with SYNNEX is not an exclusive one, but our intent is to leverage their capabilities, and at least for the time being, I don’t think we need more than them,” Tudor said. “I have a strong past history working with SYNNEX in both the U.S. and Canada, and never had any surprises from them.”

Tudor indicated that besides the usual shows with SYNNEX for exposure, they will be doing some niche marketing with them as well.

“We are a good fit for them, because they don’t think we compete with any other product line they have,” he said.