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By | Chris Mellor 27th May 2010 05:02

Can Geoff Barrall help rescue Overland?

It's down to the product squad now

Comment Overland Storage is still walking the tightrope. Its share price is back down where it was when a reverse stock split took place to evade the jaws of a Nasdaq delisting trap ($2.00). It's not down so low as to threaten its Nasdaq listing again but since April 9 it seems headed that way.

CEO Eric Kelly has refinanced the company, hired many new executives, and has efforts under way to make Overland more efficient at what it does, but what it does is design, make and build product, and the products are not growing revenues fast enough.

The latest financial results were encouraging but not inspiring - Overland is out of intensive care and in the recovery room. Time is short though. Another quarter with a declining share price means the waiting jaws of Nasdaq's ejection trap will get a fresh grip on the company. It can't have another reverse stock split. Appeals for fresh financing need something that investors can pin their hopes on and, regrettably, refreshes of existing data protection products aren't likely to be sufficient. They'll do well in the customer base but not grow that base much.

The SnapServer low-end storage arrays are facing intense competition from the likes of Iomega and yet another unified storage box is not what the market will pay attention to. Look at GreenBytes: it's offering multi-tiered NAS and SAN storage with ZFS, inline deduplication and MAID - drive bank spin down - replication and scalability to 216TB, soon to be 432TB, and that's with 2.5-inch drives and SSD caching included. The unified storage table stakes are rising all the time and making a major SnapServer development both more necessary and harder to achieve.

Step forward new executive employee Geoff Barrall who joined Overland in March. He's introduced revolutionary product designs that turned start-ups into success stories twice already. The first time was with BlueArc where NAS acceleration through FPGA hardware is still the basis for BlueArc's product line. Then Barrall started up Data Robotics and introduced the stylish, safe and very easy to use Drobo with plug-in upgrades of disk drives and extremely simple RAID protection.

Now he works for Overland Storage and needs to pull out a product. Going by his track record his product - we're assuming that that is what he is there to create - will involve fresh thinking around both hardware and software. He's only been at Overland for a few months and product gestation can take years.

Overland needs something quite soon - something for its employees, channel and investors to hang their hats on and keep the faith. Time is passing and we'd all like to see Geoff step up to the plate. Come on Overland. ®

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