Monday, January 31, 2011

Atrato; Renewed Life through Assurance Software and Hardware Solutions LLC.

In November of last year Atrato closed its doors after a two year struggle to reinvent itself from an entrenched hardware company into an innovative software developer. Founded in 2004 Atrato introduced a unique hardware platform that exploited the 2½” disk form factor and with an innovative packaging design they shoe-horned 160 drives into a highly efficient, high IOP, 3U rack form factor. Designed with the VOD market in mind the product was launched but due to performance issues (latency) and questionable product completeness it failed to gain significant traction. In 2009 the company embarked on an effort to reinvent itself with the development of some very innovative storage management software including intelligent tiered storage with integrated intelligent cache management.

Unfortunately, despite some early success with this new focus, investor patience was exhausted before the company could establish meaningful market traction.

In November of last year a group of investors acquired the assets of Atrato, including the IP, formed a company and launched in January as Assurance Software and Hardware solution LLC (aka Assurance Storage). The new company includes eight (8) of the original employees including a core team of five (5) engineers. The leader of the new company is Steve Visconti, formally the Atrato CEO. Talking with the members of the company they appear to have a clear focus on continuing to develop storage management software without the encumbrance of supporting hardware. Not to say that hardware will not be a part of their solution, it will, but will just not be their native hardware. They are apparently in discussions with a major hardware ODM/vendor to supply them with their physical device requirements.

In response to the question what’s different with the new company Visconti responded “Our charter is much different than Atrato. Assurance Storage is focused on delivering innovative storage software for “Off-The-Shelf” storage enclosures and OEM. We see very lucrative opportunities in developing software which lessens the burden of data center manager’s risk and workload through software intelligence and autonomics. One example is our Assurance Virtualization Software which has integrated Fault detection, Isolation and Recovery intelligence which significantly reduces the potential for service interruptions and data loss. We do plan to offer support to Atrato customers by offering them ongoing support agreements for the SAID plus we will have migration options to our new 3 ½ HDD enterprise enclosures.”

As many of my readers probably know I spent a lot of time with Atrato in 2010. I was, and still am, a fan of the management software that the Atrato engineering team was working on. They were ahead of the competitive curve with a unique autonomic architecture that addressed one of the fundamental issues associated with tiered storage management, that of management complexity.

Assurance has inherited a technology foundation that is impressive, not just in the tiered storage management but as was described to me in the development of broader storage and data transformational services.

Bottom Line: Technology is not the impediment to success but the ability of the company to execute on the foundation they have inherited. The team at Assurance are bullish but only time will tell if they will  be successful.

Disclaimer: I was an employee of Atrato from October 2009 to October 2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If only the management team would have sold the hardware into the data storage/backup and cloud channels that were beating on the doors asking for the product as it was rather than being blinded by the glitz of the movie industry and VOD. Had that happened, the hardware would still be around and probably on its 3rd generation by now. Though being sidetracked by a major investor for well over a year causing 2+ mil in expenditures for a "1 million dollar sale" that never did happen didn't help either...