Hyperconverged startup Stratoscale gears up for late summer product release

Stratoscale emerged from stealth late last year with some powerful vendor investors, a unique hyperconverged value proposition and a 100 per cent channel strategy. The plan is for the product to be available this summer.

Michael Richards Stratoscale 300

Michael Richards, Director of Channels at Stratoscale

The hyperconverged storage market remains red hot, with additional vendors continuing to enter the space, either adapting their existing technology to this purpose, or entering the market with a purpose-built startup. Stratoscale, a product of the Israeli high-tech hothouse, with offices and R&D in Israel and an American office in Marlborough MA, is one of the latter. They emerged from stealth last November, announcing a $32 million Series B round of funding headed by Intel Capital, Cisco and SanDisk. They are working on a 1.0 limited release to address proof of concept questions and the plan is to have a general release later this summer.

“The companies already selling in this space are all storage solutions with a hypervisor bolted on top,” said Michael Richards, Director of Channels at Stratoscale. “We are the only one who comes out with our own version of a hypervisor, and we have a great story to tell.”

Stratoscale’s pedigree is impressive. The two cofounders, Ariel Maislos (the CEO) and Etay Bogner (the CTO) have each already founded and sold multiple tech companies. Maislos sold Anobit to Apple for $390 million in 2012 and Passave to PMC-Sierra for $300 million in 2006. Bogner sold SofaWare to Check Point in 2011 and Neocleus to Intel in 2010.

Stratoscale has what it considers to be a unique technology position in the hyperconverged space, in which its plug and play software stack transforms standard x86 servers into hyperconverged infrastructure, combining high-performance storage with efficient cloud services, and supporting both containers and virtualization on the same platform.

“We manage the compute layer as well as the storage layer, so we are a true hyperconverged solution,” Richards said. “We leverage OpenStack open source cloud software, and are part of that community, although we are not an OpenStack distribution. We productize some of its pieces. We also use KVM as our hypervisor and integrate it with our IP.” In addition, they utilize Docker’s open source container technology to move applications easily between different server environments.

Stratoscale also differs from others in the space by aggregrating datacentre resources into pools, ensuring that they are all used effectively, and offering the promise of massive scalability, with the software doing all the dirty work and the customers being able to use cheap server hardware.

“We have tested up to a couple hundred server nodes, and with the release for the latter half of this year we will be talking thousands of nodes,” Richards said. ‘The only real limitation is resources and testing.”

Richards said Stratoscale believes their unique architecture gives them better functionality than other hyperconverged players, and that that their economics will make them cheaper as well, although he acknowledged that in the pre-revenue stage, cost metrics are still premature.

Because Stratoscale is open on hardware, they have attracted the curiosity of hardware OEMs, as well as a range of potential partners.

“We have had discussions with many OEMs, and have started working with them to make sure there is a play on their hardware,” Richards said. “Many are testing right now.”

Stratoscale will go to market out of the gate through a 100 per cent channel model, and Richards said they have seen a lot of interest from potential partners.

“Because we are open on the hardware side, we have had a great response from partners who have already committed to specific server vendors,” he said.

Richards indicated that the necessary partner skillset is fairly rigorous.

“I’m looking for traditional infrastructure VARs, and a VAR who is a good match will be able to speak virtualization, converged and cloud,” he said.

Many potential partners are already working with other hyperconverged players.

“Working with other hyperconverged vendors isn’t an obstacle to a partner also working with us,” he said. “Once this market matures more, you will see more separation in terms of who is better for what workload, and more partner focus at that point, but we aren’t there yet.”

Out of the gate, Stratoscale is looking at having a fairly select partner base.

“I’m looking at two to three for each geographic area to start, to get our feet wet,” Richards said. “The cool thing about being a startup is we can scale up there as quickly as the market needs us to.”

In Canada, they are working with Scalar, a Toronto-based solutions integrator with a national presence, who was one of their first partners to sign up.

“We are talking with some distributors about potentially bringing us on board as well,” Richards said.

In addition to putting together their channel, Stratoscale is talking with ISVs and building relationships with integrated VDI and Big Data vendors.

“VDI is a natural play for us,” Richards said.

That’s a key reason why Stratoscale was at Citrix Synergy this week, talking with Citrix customers and partners.

“We are having some great conversations,” Richards said.