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Award helps start-up go national

Anne Knowles

Darren McBride knows how to motivate himself.He wanted to introduce Highly Reliable Systems, his recently launched network storage company, to a national audience.

But he wasn’t quite ready.

The company had only a handful of its backup systems ready to go, few sales and marketing materials and the staff, which also ran McBride’s other business, Sierra Computers & Training, was already stretched thin.

So McBride signed up the company for the computer networking industry’s biggest trade show a mere month before the event.

“I did it partly because I knew it would force us to get the literature and everything ready,” said McBride.

The strategy paid off.

Highly Reliable Systems left its first Networld + Interop tradeshow last month in Las Vegas with the event’s top award for network storage, beating out two other finalists including industry giant Computer Associates.

Now McBride and his staff are scrambling to keep up with business.

Since the show, they’ve shipped systems to their first customers outside northern Nevada, in Texas, Florida and Michigan.

They’ve also signed up a dozen resellers in other parts of the country that will sell the company’s backup storage devices.

And in the last week he’s hired three new employees, one in sales and two in production.

“It’s all due to the award,” said McBride.

“We’ve taken orders for six systems this week.”

The company expects to be shipping about 20 drives a month now.When it gets up to 100 a month, McBride said he’ll have to consider outsourcing the manufacturing which is now done at his facility on Vassar Street in Reno.

The award is also getting the company plenty of press from computer industry magazines that are planning to review the company’s High-Rely drives.

The systems are designed to replace tape backup systems.

The High-Rely system consists of seven hard drives, which can be used to back up data on a small network every day of the week.When done, the drives are then swapped out and replaced with fresh drives.

The product is designed to replace widely used tape backup systems.

The hard drives are more costly, said McBride, but the initial outlay for High-Rely is about half the cost of a typical tape library system, and it is far easier to use and more reliable.

The idea for the drive came to McBride when he was doing work with his 20-year old Sierra Computers & Training.He was getting more and more consulting work involving several new federal laws, including the healthcare privacy act, that require businesses to store years of data.

“This backup system came out of that,” said McBride.

“Backup is this huge scary monster out there.”


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