Primary Data brings Woz aboard and talks virtualized storage

Storage startup Primary Data is ready to demo its technology to potential customers looking to improve their existing data-center storage setup. The startup also said today that [company]Apple[/company] co-founder Steve Wozniak is now Primary Data’s chief scientist; as part of Wozniak’s new gig, he will be helping the company build out its technology and advocate for the company as it courts clients.

The startup is led by CEO Lance Smith and CTO David Flynn, who both came from the flash-storage startup (Wozniak was Fusion-io’s chief scientist as well), and aims to solve the problem of messy storage arrays in company data centers.

The proliferation of different types of storage — flash, optical, etc.– in data centers often creates disparate data silos, said Flynn. This separation of storage arrays isn’t an efficient way for modern-day applications to perform, as they need to be able to access all of that data as quickly as possible, he explained.

[company]Primary Data[/company]’s solution is to “virtualize data, elevating it to transcend between the [different] types of storage,” Flynn said. The startup does this by leaving the physical storage alone while virtualizing the metadata that correlates to the physical data. This means that metadata like file names, access control and permissions can be converted to software code so that Primary Data’s custom data hypervisor can track it.

Now, applications that need to access data hosted in different locations can easily do so as the data hypervisor can quickly route the appropriate data to the right place, according to the company.

“That protection and performance profile combined with knowing the access patterns of the client allows us to put the data objects in the right storage system so as to fulfill the requirements,” Flynn said.

Primary Data CTO David Flynn

Primary Data CTO David Flynn

Customers will need to hook up their existing storage systems or new storage systems to Primary Data’s hardware appliance, which then stores the necessary metadata, Flynn explained. Because the gear can interpret each storage system’s unique protocols, it makes no difference whether the storage systems are different; the hardware reads the data as one in the same and users can better allocate storage resources across the data center.

“They have to run the data hypervisor and then, voila–it becomes fluidly mobile across all these storage environments,” said Flynn.

The Los Altos-based startup has 80 employees and $63 million in funding, said CEO Lance Smith. Pricing will be announced next year.