Is Copan getting ready for a surge? Reading the runes suggests so. First a quick re-cap. Copan supplies MAID drive arrays. These Massive Arrays of Idle Disks are mostly spun down with only active drives consuming power and needing cooling. The effect of this is that MAID arrays can pack disks very much more closely together so that a MAID array has vastly more capacity per unit of rackspace than any other disk-based product. It approaches tape in storage density terms.

Idle disks are periodically spun and verified okay in what Copan calls disk aerobics. Data access times on idle disks are clearly longer than on spinning disks but much better than access to tape-based information in a library. Copan's product acts as a disk-based archive for persistent data, the stuff you have to keep and access little.

Competitor Nexsan has a similar AutoMAID technology. Fujitsu Siemens Computers has its equivalent technology. Something is going on with a Sun/Copan reselling deal although trying to get good information on this is like plucking hens' teeth.

Last year Copan helped set up a persistent data eco-system, joining with other storage industry suppliers, including Sun Microsystems, Symantec, FalconStor, and Seagate Technology, "to provide enterprise customers with a better solution for managing persistent data." It needs heavyweight support to spread its product and technology popularity. It has a direct sales channel and a reseller one.

Copan’s product offerings have expanded in the past year to include its flagship VTL offering, a file-based archive product, and a block-level interface product that supports a number of backup and archive applications as part of the company’s Persistent Data Storage Architecture. An encryption capability has also been announced.

Green credentials

Copan's green credentials are unmatched by any other drive array vendor. Its MAID platform and Revolution storage solutions deliver energy cost savings ranging from 75 to 90 percent per unit of storage when compared to competitive solutions while delivering the industry’s highest storage density of 44.8TB/sq ft.

It calculates MAID delivers 90TB per kilowatt, the highest in the industry. This compares to an average power density for Fibre Channel disk products of approximately 4 TB per kilowatt and an average rate for standard SATA disk products of 17 TB per kilowatt. That can mean power and cooling savings between $5.7 million and $7.8 million over a four year time period.

No question Copan's MAID technology's time has come as far as green IT ideas are concerned.

Senior staff recruitments

Over the past few months Copan has announced these appointments:-

1. Robert (Bobby) Kocol joins its board of directors. Copan stated; "With a broad background in operational, administrative and international financial management and hailing most recently from StorageTek, Kocol brings valued expertise in financial oversight in the storage industry to the COPAN board and will assist the management team to champion the company’s continued expansion and leadership in the storage industry." Kocol has more than 27 years of experience, most recently with StorageTek, where as Chief Financial Officer he helped orchestrate StorageTek’s acquisition by Sun Microsystems in a $4.1 billion deal. (Note the Sun connection here.)

“I am very excited to join COPAN at this important phase in its growth and development,” said Kocol. “COPAN is poised for success in the rapidly expanding persistent data storage market and I’m excited to help contribute to the company’s continued growth and success.”

President and CEO Mark Ward has a StorageTek background and also worked for EMC. He joined in January, 2006.

2. Mark Pougnet joins as Chief Financial Officer. He has a diverse background in finance, venture funding and business development, including time with Avaya.

3. Thomas Despres becomes senior vice president of Operations. His first order of business will be to institute lean principles and demand-pull techniques to manage the supply chain. Despres brings more than 22 years of experience to COPAN, most recently with McData Corporation. He has also worked with StorageTek as the general manager of StorageTek's Puerto Rico manufacturing division, where he led a team of 500 people.

4. It has hired five key executives to enhance its international sales team and expand its geographic presence.

- Garry Veale has been appointed as senior vice president of International Sales and Services to direct COPAN Systems’ international sales organisation across the EMEA and APAC regions. He joins COPAN Systems from EMC where he was vice president of its Northern EMEA region.
- Mick Bradley joins Veale’s team as vice president of International Services and Support. Mick joins COPAN from Pillar Data Systems where he was Technology Solution Director for EMEA..
- Martin Firth joins COPAN Systems UK as Vice President of UK operations. Firth joins COPAN Systems from EMC UK where he was the Enterprise Sales Director for more than five years. With his combined market knowledge and experience, Firth will drive the UK sales operation and will report directly to Veale.
- Joining from Pillar Data Systems is Steve Wilson, supporting him in a UK System Engineering role. Wilson was Pillar's EMEA System Engineering Manager.

Copan has set up a new EMEA headquarters in Chertsey, England.

Existing customers include Time Warner, AOL, MySpace, NASA and the US department of Homeland Security. We wrote up Baptist Memorial Health Care's use of Copan here.

Has Copan's time come?

The company is confident. It's spent a lot of bucks on senior recruitment, EMEA offices and staff. A green whirlwind is steadily gathering speed and power and cooling costs are coming to the fore in virtually every large datacentre in the main global economies. The amount of unstructured data having to be stored is growing enormously and, at the same time, compliance, regulatory and legal discovery trends are steadily increasing the pressure on businesses to be very careful about what information they throw away whilst being able to know what they have stored and access it quickly.

Tape archives have the capacity and low power/cooling costs but it isn't easy to locate stuff across myriad backups - each backup is its very own silo in a sense. Nearline drive arrays have a low storage density compared to tape and cost big bucks to spin the drives and cool the arrays. There are only two potential killer technologies in town for this intersection of unstructured storage capacity, access speed, low power and low cooling costs.

These are de-duplicated drive arrays and MAID technology. MAID technology is proven. De-duplication isn't - yet. But imagine, just imagine, what Copan could do for effective storage density with a de-duplicated MAID product. Nobody is saying anything about such a product yet but it would be a technology marriage made in heaven. Copan uses FalconStor technology for its virtual tape library and FalconStor has de-duping capability. Come on guys, tie the knot, get spliced, you know it makes sense.

To paraphrase an Orange ad, the future's bright. The future's MAID.