Fusion-io founders net $50M for stealth storage startup Primary Data

David Flynn and Rick White, the guys who built Fusion-io (s fio) from startup to initial public offering, have raised $50 million for their next startup, something called Primary Data. The mammoth funding round was led by Accel Partners and included Battery Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Wing Capital Group.

That’s a lot of money, but Flynn and White do have a track record after taking Fusion-io, which started out popping flash storage onto PCI-express cards to make adding solid-state storage to servers easier, public. The idea was to speed up access to data by storing it closer to the compute. Customers included Facebook(s fb) and other webscale companies. Flynn left Fusion in May, after taking the company public in 2011. So what’s he up to now?

The company won’t yet say (it plans to “launch” in the second quarter of 2014) but based on the problem statement in the company’s release, it looks like Primary Data is mucking about with software-defined storage. From the release:

Cloud and the performance of Flash have spurred a transition in storage. But it’s not about the storage resources themselves. Instead, we need to focus on the data,” said David Flynn, co-founder and CEO of Primary Data. “Data needs to live beyond the boundaries of the storage systems that hold it. This is one of the problems Primary Data solves. With record-setting funding, we are now ready to lead the charge to a new era of storage that spans from Flash to Cloud.

Flynn also gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in August that described the company’s product as software:

The company is developing software–though it actually will come bundled on standard server hardware–that essentially connects all those pools of data together, offering what Flynn calls a “unified file directory namespace” visible to all servers in company computer rooms–as well as those “in the cloud” that might be operated by external service companies.

If Primary Data is indeed going into this space it will compete with companies such as Nutanix and Coho Data (formerly Convergent.io). Fusion-io itself has a product that’s similar based on its acquisition of IO Turbine.

The company has offices in Salt Lake City, Silicon Valley and Israel, all areas well known for building storage startups.