This startup’s software can manage your storage, all inside the server

Although we’re still a ways away from seeing the data deluge that’s sure to come as the internet of things becomes more mainstream, that doesn’t mean storage startups aren’t busy creating technology designed to handle the flood of data.

Launching Wednesday, a new Sunnyvale-based storage startup called Springpath is flaunting its solution to the oncoming data deluge: a software-designed storage strategy that promises to allow customers to more efficiently store data in their server infrastructure without having to buy more hard drives.

Springpath, like other software-defined-storage startups like Primary Data and Qumulo, believes that modern-day data centers for the likes of a typical business (not the Googles or Facebooks of the world) are “highly fragmented” and littered with too many hardware appliances from multiple vendors, explained Springpath CEO and CTO Mallik Mahalingam. Compounding the problem is that each appliance has its own management plane that conflicts with the other devices, he said.

What Springpath wants to do is unify all of the storage in a company’s data centers through the use of software, but what makes it different is that the underlying Springpath software “runs on top of commodity servers” as opposed to the storage hard drives themselves, said Mahalingam.

“We are a full storage system,” said Mahalingam. “We don’t depend on any external storage [device].”

The Springpath team said that modern-day commodity servers contain enough storage built inside them that they can be used as both suppliers of compute and storage. The startup’s founders, who came from [company]VMware[/company] (Mahalingam said he is the inventor of the VxLan virtual networking technology), think that their proprietary software coupled together a server will be more efficient than storage arrays whose technology might be decades old.

At the heart of Springpath’s technology is its distributed file system called HALO, which the company spent the past three years developing from the ground up.


With the the HALO architecture, users should be able to link up all of their servers and access the types of data management services that you’d come to expect from other software-defined storage startups. These services include data caching, intelligently distributing the data across the devices for better performance and data de-duplication, which essentially removes duplicate copies of data that are hogging the system.

By putting a company’s data in one single device that does both compute and storage, Mahalingam explained that this could significantly save a company money in buying excess storage drives.

Of course, having both storage and compute bundled in one appliance could pose problems if the device shuts down for some reason, taking both the computing and data down with it. However, Springpath’s software apparently takes in account failover, so if one device goes down, another one should come back online.

If you want to use Springpath’s software in your data center to connect to the public cloud, as of now the startup only supports vCloud Air and “anything that’s coupled with the VMware environment,” but plans are to eventually support other public cloud environments, Mahalingam said.

Springpath also doesn’t support Hadoop, so big data aficionados who love the framework may be out of luck for the time being. Mahalingam said Hadoop integration may be on the horizon.

The Sunnyvale startup currently has $34 million in total funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, NEA and Redpoint.

Qumulo lands $40M to bring order to messy data center storage

You can add another startup to the growing list of software-defined storage startups getting some love from investors in recent month. Seattle-based Qumulo plans to announce on Wednesday that it took in a $40 million series B investment round, which brings the stealth startup’s total funding to $67 million.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) drove the funding round along with previous investors Highland Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners. KPCB partner Wen Hsie and Madrona Venture Group’s managing director Matt McIlwain are taking a seat on the startup’s board along with Sujal Patel, the founder of the storage company Isilon Systems.

Qumulo’s executive team is comprised of several ex-Isilon head honchos who took the storage company public in 2006. After the executives left Isilon in 2008, EMC ended up acquiring the company in 2010 for $2.25 billion.

In 2012, the former Isilon co-workers — which includes Qumulo CEO Peter Godman, CTO Aaron Passey and vice president of engineering Neal Fachan — decided they wanted to start another storage company, but they found that the enterprise-storage landscape had changed over the years since their time spent developing the technology behind Isilon Systems, explained Godman in an interview.

Whereas Isilon Systems was created to help solve problems associated with storage scalability, in which organizations purchase and piece together storage hardware in their infrastructure on an as-needed basis, the Qumulo team learned through market research that enterprises were now having problems managing all that data, and many companies were not even aware of how exactly their data was being stored.

Qumulo Founders

Qumulo Founders

The organizations that Qumulo talked to did not know how to track what users were accessing particular pieces of data, which data was not being regularly used, nor what data should be deleted. With this information, the Qumulo felt the best way to deal with this dilemma was through software that could get a read on an organization’s storage infrastructure and help users understand how their data is being used, all in the name of better storage efficiency.

“We started building a next-generation scale-out file system that operates excitingly well,” said Godman. “It tells people what they need to know about their data.”

Godman, citing that the startup is still in stealth, wouldn’t elaborate on the details of how the company’s new file system works or how users install it and get it running in their data centers, but he said that the company used its last funding round to build the product and now has a stable of customers that’s been actively using it.

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 Apple 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.