Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rorke Data targets the motion picture industry with their Galaxy IB – a 2k/4k post processing, digital media solution.

Rorke Data who? Exactly my initial response, but what left me “gob-smacked” was the unrecognized achievements of this Bell Micro subsidiary (Bell aquired Rorke Data in 2000) and that they do not register on most, if not all, radar screens that track disk based storage vendors. However, talking with Joe Swanson, President of Rorke Data it is clear that his objective is to fix this failing with their recently introduced Aurora IB leading the charge.

Founded in 1985 as a storage solution developer and integrator Rorke Data introduced their current Galaxy line of high performance disk systems in 1999 and have since shipped over 7000 storage systems world-wide into the motion picture, medical imaging and video surveillance markets. Rorke's latest announcement is the Galaxy© Aurora IB, a high performance, storage appliance and features Infiniband and SAS drives. It is a fully integrated solution reputed to deliver over 1.7GB/sec sustained data transfer rate with a maximum, single system, capacity of 22TB (24 drives), housed in a single 4U enclosure. It supports 4k or multi-stream 2k/HD workflows. As with all Galaxy© products, RAID 6 is employed to deliver robust data protection. With an MRSP of under $2 and a street price estimated to be in the $1.50 range positions this solution very well as a cost effective, high performance storage subsystem for digital imaging applications. If high performance is not required then Rorke Data can offer their Galaxy© 3G. Introduced in July it has a specification that boasts data rates of over 1GB/sec and a single system capacity of 80TB, all at an MSRP of under $1 and an estimated street price of 50c.

So why are they an unknown? Had they been operating in some type of stealth mode? Or perhaps was it simply indolence on my part that caused me to overlook a player in disk based data storage.

The answer, at least to the stealth question is no, not stealth but their G-T-M strategy. They are an OEM which means that they do not directly sell and in their case, nor do they directly market to the end user. While this distribution model is the least expensive, operationally there is a price to pay. Disconnected from the reality of the end user creates challenges in solution development, neutralizes corporate awareness and eliminates the accrual of brand equity. One company which is an outstanding example of how to avoid this classic OEM pitfall is Brocade. While they focused on the indirect channel they did not abdicate the marketing role. By keeping in touch with their end user community they built impressive market awareness, built significant brand equity and guided by customer input delivered customer relevant solutions. The Brocade model is one that Rorke Data should study closely. By the way the indolence question I leave open.

Rorke Data is facing some very competent and attractive competition. Traditional players such as EMC, HP and NetApp are focusing on the digital imaging market with dedicated products but I believe their biggest challenge will come from the likes of Data Direct Networks and Isolon who have very compelling products.

Time will tell if Rorke Data can retool themselves to drive the visibility and growth they desire.

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