Fusion-io competitor Virident closes $21M round

Virident, the PCIe solid state drive company that competes head to head with Fusion-io, (s FIO) has raised $21 million in Series C funding. This round includes contributions from new investors Intel Capital  (s INTC) and Cisco Systems (s CSCO) and was led by Globespan Capital Partners. Existing backers Sequoia Capital and Artiman Ventures also chipped in, bringing the total venture investment in Virident to about $50 million, said Kumar Ganapathy, co-founder and CEO.
Flash memory, also known as SSD,  is displacing slower, cheaper spinning disk technologies in large data centers and cloud deployments because the technology boasts higher storage I/O performance and uses less energy compared to older, cheaper hard disk drives. And the price differential over HDD that had held up broader adoption is falling, making flash an even more attractive option for more users.
Virident, based in Milpitas, Calif., also announced on Thursday a new MLC PCIe Storage-Class Memory solution that it says will run performance-intensive database and HPC applications ten times faster than HDD drives. It also claims its new FlashMax delivers two to five times the price/performanc  of comparable flash products. This version builds on 25nm MLC flash technology. The new drives will come  in 1TB and 1.4TB capacities and one card can deliver 1.4 million IOPS, Ganapathy said.
The  five-year-old company is trying to build out its own partner ecosystem, hence the strategic investments. “We’re trying to get some of the largest data center players to partner with us and validate us in the market,” Ganapathy said. “We’re pulling together a consortium of server, storage and networking players to partner with us and invest in us. Cisco is here on the server side with the UCS platform, and Intel is an investor.”
Another, unnamed, investor is a big name in the data center space, Ganapathy said. He also expects EMC (s EMC), the largest storage vendor, to become a customer.
Aside from Fusion-io, which has been on a tear with new products and impressive earnings since going public in June, Virident also has to compete against a number of other well-funded flash vendors. They range from specialists such as Violin Memory and SolidFire to general-purpose storage array startups such as Pure Storage, Nimbus Data Systems and Nimble Storage.