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WSJ bigs up Nimble and Coraid, massages their VC backers

Storage start-ups bag spots on top 50 investor-backed firms list

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The Wall Street Journal has decided hybrid disk array vendor Nimble Storage and Ethernet storage array biz Coraid are going to be The Next Big storage Things.

Nimble Storage sells hybrid flash and spinning disk drive arrays as a way of getting flash speed and disk capacity without paying the all-flash array premium.

Coraid is a start-up selling block storage arrays accessed via the lightweight and low-overhead AoE (ATA over Ethernet) protocol, a unique offering - only no other supplier uses it.

The WSJ's TNBT list is its idea of the top 50 venture capital-backed companies that will succeed, show explosive growth, because they have the cash, exec know-how and investor know-how needed. It's a sort of award in other words that flatters investors and execs in the selected start-ups.

The WSJ uses info from Dow Jones to select the companies in the list from a pool of nearly 6,000 start-ups, and we're told:

To be eligible for the ranking, a company must be based in the US, have raised an equity round of financing in the three years ended June 30, 2012 and have a valuation of $1 billion or less. The ranking was calculated by applying a set of four financial criteria: the track records of success for both a company's founders and management; track records for the investors on its board; the amount of capital raised in the last three years; and the percentage change in a company's valuation in the last year. Dow Jones VentureWire reporters and editors also provided their perspective and expertise beyond the numbers.

Nimble Storage is on the list at number 26. The WSJ notes: "More than 300 enterprise customers have signed on in the last six months." It picked up $40m in a funding round in September. CEO Suresh Vasudevan wants Nimble to be a leader in flash-optimised storage, and this WSJ pat on the back will certainly help that.

Coraid is at position number 32. Kudos to Coraid CEO Kevin Brown and his team. They have a knack of getting in the news and say the business has grown twelvefold in the last three years. It's interesting that while Coraid has re-invented the SAN existing SAN storage arrays are facing assaults by flash arrays and hybrid arrays intent on creaming off their performance data to flash, and cloud vaults set on sucking off their cold data.

It's interesting to consider what VC-backed storage start-ups are not on the WSJ list of the chosen ones: Pure Storage, Skyera, Solidfire, Tegile, Tintri, Whiptail and more. Understanding the reasons for the omission would be good to know.

Coraid says its arrays are less costly to acquire and own but just as reliable and robust as enterprise arrays. It can handle flash in the array too and has its own cloud angle. In other words, as long as customers need an enterprise and SMB array mousetrap, it has the most cost-effective and reliable one on offer. That's what Nimble says too, but based on combining flash and disk. ®

High performance access to file storage

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