DataCore is a software-defined storage (SDS) company, as well as an early storage virtualization software vendor, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DataCore's flagship SANsymphony software pools capacity across heterogeneous storage hardware. The company claims more than 10,000 customers with over 30,000 licenses have deployed SANsymphony around the world.
According to DataCore's mission statement, its goal is to "Make it practical for organizations large and small to remove physical, geographical and device-specific restrictions of data storage equipment that slow down, interrupt or endanger their IT operations."
Dave Zabrowski became DataCore's second CEO in 2018, replacing founder George Teixeira, who remains the company's executive chairman.
DataCore began shipping its SANsymphony software in 2000 for enterprise customers and added a SANmelody version for smaller businesses in 2002. The vendor changed the name of SANmelody to SANsymphony-V in 2011, but eventually dropped the SANsymphony-V brand.
SANsymphony for SDS, hyper-converged SANs
Today, DataCore sells two types of software products: the SANsymphony software-defined storage platform and the Hyperconverged Virtual SAN.
The SANsymphony SDS platform is for traditional storage networks and uses external storage systems. SANsymphony SDS treats capacity spread among devices as one storage pool. It then manages the data and optimizes performance on that aggregated storage. SANsymphony SDS runs on an appliance in the data path.
SANsymphony's performance enhancement features include high-speed caching, thin provisioning, quality of service and random write acceleration. For data protection and availability, it provides synchronous mirroring, asynchronous remote replication, point-in-time snapshots and continuous data protection. For storage efficiency and management, SANsymphony also enables data reduction, real-time analysis and reporting, and integration of storage into Kubernetes for containers.
The Hyperconverged Virtual SAN is for systems that converge traditional storage and compute products into one chassis. The software option uses storage inside x86 servers. The application pools resources across solid-state drives (SSDs) and spinning hard disk drives (HDDs). The Hyperconverged software runs as a virtual machine (VM) on a VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V or KVM hypervisor.
DataCore has always relied on parallel I/O processing to speed the performance of the underlying storage virtualized by its software.
In October 2017, the company released its MaxParallel technology to further improve I/O throughput. The vendor started with a MaxParallel driver for Microsoft SQL Server. MaxParallel sits between the database application and the operating system, so multiple CPU cores can run SQL Server requests in parallel instead of waiting for a previous request to run. This process removes I/O bottlenecks.
Because it has a wide set of use cases, DataCore competes with many large and small storage hardware and software vendors. Competing storage virtualization products include Dell EMC Vplex, Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), IBM Spectrum Connect and NetApp FlexArray.
SANsymphony also competes with SDS products such as the Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) StoreVirtual VSA, IBM Spectrum Accelerate, Nexenta NexentaStor and StorMagic SvSAN.
DataCore's Hyperconverged Virtual SAN competes with VMware vSAN and products from Cisco, Datrium, HPE, Maxta, Nutanix and Pivot3.
DataCore was founded by Teixeira and Ziya Aral in 1998. The founders previously worked together at Encore Computing. Teixeira served as CEO and president of DataCore before moving into the executive chairman role when Zabrowski became CEO in 2018.
Aral was DataCore's original CTO and remained its chairman until his death in January 2017 at age 64. Aral was the driving force behind parallel processing software at DataCore and was CTO and director of engineering at Encore, which Sun Microsystems acquired in 1997.
DataCore secured its first funding round of $6 million in 1999 and added a $35 million round from venture capitalists in 2000. It received $30 million more in a 2001 funding round.
The software vendor experienced growing pains in 2003, which Teixeira later referred to as the "dark days." DataCore reduced its staff from 150 in late 2003 to 60 in mid-2005 and transitioned from direct sales to a channel sales model.
At the same time, DataCore reduced its debt load by buying back shares from its investors at a fraction of the $75 million that venture capitalists (VC) had put into DataCore. All of DataCore's early investors except Flagship Ventures sold their shares back. Teixeira said the move cut into DataCore's operating capital, but it gave control of the company back to the founders and enabled it to make a small profit.
DataCore raised another $30 million in a 2008 funding round led by Insight Venture Partners. That was its last VC-backed funding.
When Zabrowski became DataCore CEO in April 2018, he described the company as an "established, profitable, growing business." Zabrowski said he hoped MaxParallel would move DataCore beyond just storage into being a software-defined data center company. But he admitted there was initial skepticism for the product because it promises benefits that have never been delivered before.
Before joining DataCore, Zabrowski was CEO at cloud analytics startup Cloud Cruiser and network adapter vendor Neterion, as well as a vice president of Hewlett Packard's enterprise business.