Pure Storage nets new cash from In-Q-Tel to push its “flash for all” effort

Flash storage dynamo Pure Storage has snagged new funding — the amount is undisclosed — from In-Q-Tel, the VC affiliate of the CIA and other security agencies. The fresh cash comes atop a $40 million D round closed last August, which brought the total tally at the time to a robust $95 million.

Matt Kixmoeller, VP of products for Pure Storage.

Matt Kixmoeller, VP of products for Pure Storage.

In-Q-Tel backing should make it easier to get traction in defense and security-related venues which view In-Q-Tel backing as a sort of seal of approval, said Pure Storage  co-founder and CEO Scott Dietzen. “The immediate value  [of the In-Q-Tel relationship] is in the procurement and sourcing agreements with these  agencies,” he added.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also unveiled the third major release of its core storage product that adds data-at-rest, 256-bit AES encryption that ensures that customer data is encrypted all the time — even if an array has to be taken out of service for transport or repair,

“We are software guys who focus on value-add deduplication, and encryption — we bake them right in and don’t even let them be turned off,” said Matt Kixmoeller, VP of product marketing and management. “Our hardware-oriented competitors add these things after the fact and then see massive performance degradation as a result.”

Pure’s flash-for-all motto is ambitious — solid-state flash memory is seen as much pricier than traditional disk drives and tape. But Pure executives said they’re serious about bringing the cost of flash storage down at least to spinning disk levels.

“If you take traditional tier 1 drives, you generally pay $3 to $5 per gig, but as you provision it and do things to make it useful, the end price is more like $5 to $10 per gig. We can sell flash at about $5 per useable gig,” Dietzen said.

Dan Iacano, IDC’s research director of storage systems, said Pure’s pitch has some merit.”You can probably still get tier 1 disks for a little it lower, but if you look at the all-in baked in price  [of the disk and all the software that makes it truly useful] Pure Storage close,” he noted.

Pure Storage definitely generates  buzz but it also faces some talented competitors ranging from Violin Memory and Whiptail to  Texas Memory, which IBM bought last year to boost its stake in the super-heated flash memory market. The race to flash-enable the world is going to be fun to watch.

Don’t miss Dietzen and Paula Long, who cofounded EqualLogic(s dell) and now DataGravity, talk at GigaOM’s Structure event about the role storage plays in our highly distributed world.