PernixData nets $20M to virtualize your server-side flash

PernixData, the startup founded by former VMware(s vmw) and Oracle(s orcl) technologists, now has $20 million in Series B funding to pursue its goal of virtualizing all that flash memory that’s getting shipped with new servers.

The round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from original investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and individual investors including Mark Leslie, co-founder  of Veritas; John Thompson, former CEO of Symantec(s symc) and Lane Bess, former CEO of Palo Alto Networks. It brings total funding to about $27 million.

The company plans to use the cash to build out its enterprise support, sales and marketing staff and to add capabilities as the software heads for general availability. That should happen in about two months, company CEO Poojan Kumar said in an interview. There are about 30 employees now, with the goal to add 70 to 80 more in the next 9 to 12 months, he said.

pernixdata2“Enterprise software requires staffing and expertise,” he said. He should know — Kumar led Exadata development for Oracle(s orcl) and then headed up data products for VMware. His co-founder Satyam Vaghani was principal engineer at VMware, where he worked on the vSphere kernel and the clustered file system.

PernixData says its software-only approach makes a disruptive technology a non-disruptive install that will run with a company’s existing server and storage hardware, take all the server flash available and virtualize it into a shareable pool. The company’s goal is to become “the VMware of server-side flash.”

As more servers ship with on-board flash, there’s a desire to make the most of that resource — especially for tier 1 applications like database and ERP applications that have proven difficult to virtualize.

San Jose-based PernixData is early to this battle but it won’t be alone for long. It’s safe to say that legacy storage  and server players — ranging from EMC(s emc) and NetApp(s ntap) to Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) and Dell(s dell), as well as flash storage players like Fusion-io(s fio) and Violin Systems — are scrambling for traction here.

PernixData is betting that its product — now in beta at 50 companies — will beat them to market by a good two years and build from there.