The down low on why Coho Data is a no-go

Compute-assisted DataStream Micro Arrays are no more

By Chris Mellor

Posted in Storage, 31st August 2017 17:46 GMT

Exclusive Compute-assisted storage array startup Coho Data has shut up shop.

Coho Data was founded in 2011 by CEO Ramana Jonnala, CTO Andrew Warfield and chief architect Keir Fraser. It picked up $65m in funding in three rounds, the third one being for $30m in 2015.

Andrew Warfield notified friends that it had closed down on August 29. The closure is also confirmed on a LinkedIn Coho Data customer website.

Coho Data closure on LinkedIn page (Click image to enlarge)

The company developed DataStream MicroArrays, which came out in May 2015, when the $30m funding round was announced. The arrays combine Xeon-based server, PCIe NVMe flash cards, and disk storage, and compute for closely-coupled storage tasks such as video stream transcoding and Splunk-style data analysis. The compute is not for general application execution and the DataStream system is not positioned as a hyper-converged appliance.

The latest development was Coho partnering with HPE on its software on Apollo servers, delivering a scale-out, distributed storage platform with a NAS interconnect.

Coho launched DataStream v2.9.0 software which introduced support for HPE’s Apollo r2600 chassis with ProLiant XL190r Gen9 half-width server nodes. The r2600 is a low-end HPC system with up to four servers in a 2U chassis. Everything needed was purchasable from HPE.

The spec document [PDF] says, “The Coho DataStream platform simplifies data center infrastructure operations and management, by abstracting storage, network and compute, thereby allowing for the right mix of resources for varied application demands.”

It also said: “It is the only solution that integrates Software Defined Network and Software Defined Storage on commodity hardware to empower customers to cost effectively transform their data centers into a source of competitive advantage.”

These statements and the spec generally don’t say anything about running closely coupled storage compute tasks in an array.

Chief Marketing Officer Jim Ensell, hired in April 2016, left in January 2017 for HyperGrid and said he helped reposition Coho into the rack space. He has not been replaced at Coho.

The Coho Data tweet stream last saw a post on July 28 this year. Its blog last saw a post on April 28, 2016. The company went through a round of layoffs in February 2016 following a previous one in the second half of 2015.

At the time of the second layoff round, we wondered “if the selling task for a storage array that does more than store data but less than a server is a hard one. Coho Data’s array can run some system storage applications, such as video transcoding, but it is not intended to run applications generally ... Perhaps it is easier to sell external storage arrays as just that, and not with semi-server compute engines on top.”

Our assessment is that the arrays did not gain enough traction in the marketplace to justify investors putting in more money. Nor did the repositioning of its software as a scale-out, distributed storage platform based on HPE Apollo nodes increase sales and customer interest enough to spark more funding interest. ®

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