Analysis: DataCore is actively developing a platform that integrates block- and file-based storage across edge sites, datacenters, and the public cloud. It caters to various applications, including virtual machines, containers, media and entertainment, as well as AI.
DataCore is an established supplier in the field of software-defined storage, founded in 1998. The company has gained significant traction with its SANsymphony block storage, Swarm object storage (acquired from Caringo), and Bolt Kubernetes-orchestrated container storage (acquired from MayaData). Bolt has been notably involved in storage capacity bids reaching 100PB.
The business is well established, having traded profitably for 14 years. Its client base is robust, with strong ties to medium and small enterprises, as well as departmental and line-of-business applications in larger businesses. CEO Dave Zabrowski, who joined DataCore in 2018, plans to maintain this approach. His vision is to tap into larger enterprises through vertical market applications, thereby circumventing the need for CIO-level selling efforts.
DataCore also runs a division known as Perifery, which provides edge storage solutions. This division offers the Perifery archiving appliance and Transporter physical data transfer products. These products cater to vertical edge markets such as media and entertainment, and health and life sciences. The key goal is to integrate these products into workflows rather than selling them as standalone products.
Perifery also oversees the Swarm object storage product and the media and entertainment object storage supplier Object Matrix, which DataCore acquired in January. Currently, Perifery is working on an AI product designed to preprocess media content generated at the edge before it is transferred to the public cloud or a datacenter.
Zabrowski shared a hypothetical scenario where a surgeon is operating on a patient and a camera has taken images of polyps. These are tissue growths inside the body and could be benign, potentially cancerous or actually cancerous. The image is fed to a local server/workstation, where a machine learning inference system analyzes it and tells the surgeon what percentage of such polyps are, or could become, cancerous. In effect the ML inference software, operating at the edge, the hospital, gives the surgeon cut-it-out or leave-it-in information in real time.
We think that DataCore’s Perifery division could be developing AI stack infrastructure components that could help in such work.
Containers and objects, not files
DataCore’s focus has shifted from vFilo, its file storage software product, to object storage for managing unstructured data storage. Zabrowski has expressed confidence in Swarm’s technology for its superior scalability when compared to MinIO object storage.
To run DataCore’s software platform components on the edge, in datacenters, and the public cloud, containerization is necessary. However, Zabrowski has cautioned that it is not possible to containerize monolithic applications like SANsymphony without rewriting them. There are different considerations for distributed software like the acquired Caringo Swarm object storage, which will likely be containerized.
The long run
DataCore’s primary investor, Insight Partners, is a long-term stakeholder and, as Zabrowski states, is not looking to exit the investment soon. DataCore is a 25-year-old firm that is evolving to cater to an edge-led future. This evolution includes its division Perifery and AI applications that facilitate more processing at the edge.
The future of DataCore involves more than just providing storage. It aims to enable data and integrate it into workflows by facilitating data movement between workflow stages and manipulating and processing it for efficiency. This evolution will likely involve data transfer to datacenters and the public cloud for additional processing and long-term storage. In essence, DataCore aims to be a comprehensive data storage infrastructure supplier rather than just a provider of storage.