7 hot storage startups to watch

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In all, StorSimple promises to slash your storage infrastructure by as much as 80% and to connect you with your preferred cloud provider without any disruptive changes to your own on-premises apps.

CEO Parikh says that his company's product is the only hybrid cloud storage appliance of its kind to be certified by both Microsoft and VMware, and that StorSimple now supports cloud services from Microsoft, AT&T and Amazon, among others. What's more, it is working on supporting OpenStack.

"We provide the only solution that has core enterprise features such as high availability, no single points of failure and no downtime for maintenance," he says. "Our customers have been very happy shifting their money to StorSimple and the cloud and away from traditional storage."

StorSimple added $10.5 million in Series C venture funding led by Ignition Partners to its coffers over the summer, bringing the total to more than $31 million.

Tintri

Founded: 2008Focus: Storage for virtual machinesLocation: Mountain View

Who's the boss? Kieren Harty, the co-founder and CEO, worked at VMware for seven years as its executive vice president of R&D. Co-fou and Architect Mark Gritter was formerly a staff engineer at Sun Microsystems.

The lowdown: Tintri wants to be the go-to storage service for virtualized environments, as its VMstore appliance was designed only to work on virtual machines. Chris Bennett, Tintri's vice president of marketing, says that the company is comfortable putting all its eggs in the virtualization basket because virtual machines have now become the norm for IT instead of the exception.

"The number of virtual servers exceeded the number of physical servers for the first time in 2009," he says. "We're not general-purpose storage. What we want to do is remove the final block for enterprises that want to do full-scale adoption of virtualization."

Tintri provides 13.5TB of usable storage in each datastore and uses an architecture that delivers 99% of I/O from flash. Bennett says that one of the appliance's key features is its ability to auto-align virtual machines to improve performance. This particular problem with virtual machines occurs when a VM's guest OS and its storage function write data blocks to disk that don't automatically line up together. While this isn't a very big deal if you're working with a small number of virtual machines, it becomes a greater hindrance the larger you scale since misaligned VMs will inevitably create more demand for additional input/output operations per second. Tintri estimates that these misaligned blocks can degrade VM performance between 10% and 30%.

The company, which raised an $18 million C Series round of funding in June, solves this problem by using a VM-aware file system that it says "dynamically adapts" to the guest OS and doesn't disrupt its operations.

"Auto-alignment dramatically improves ease of use," says Bennett. "It's one less nagging issue for people to deal with."

VeloBit

Founded: 2010Focus: SSD optimizationLocation: Boxborough, Mass.

Who's the boss: CEO and co-founder Duncan McCallum was previously the CEO and co-founder of Cilk Arts, a multicore solution vendor bought up by Intel. CTO and co-founder Qing Yang is an IEEE fellow who has published dozens of patents in the fields of storage architectures, disk I/O systems, parallel and distributed computing, and networks.

The lowdown: VeloBit isn't going to sell you expensive pieces of storage equipment. Rather, the company designs and sells software designed to improve the performance of solid-state drives (SSD) in the enterprise. And best of all, claims VeloBit CEO McCallum, it does this with as little disruption to your operations as possible.

"Our software enables customers to install SSDs without changing your applications, backup or data management," he says. "It will boost the performance of your SSD and give you a less expensive SSD."

VeloBit accomplishes this by using unique algorithms to create a caching layer with SSD memory that sits between applications and any block-based storage system, whether it's SAN, direct attached or SSD. The VeloBit caching layer comprises main memory, SSD and computation that compresses data at a block level and uses a variety of factors to determine whether or not it should be stored on SSD or traditional disk. McCallum says that these algorithms perform more complex tasks than typical caching algorithms that merely sort content based on how often it's accessed.

VeloBit uses a technique called Content Locality that looks for similar aspects within different blocks. So let's say you have three different blocks that each have four bytes in them, labeled "ABAB," XABX" and "XXBA." VeloBit's algorithms will recognize that while all of these blocks are different, they also all contain "AB" or "BA," so will compress those blocks of data prior to caching them. As McCallum says, this can make a relatively small cache "look really big" because so much data is chopped up, compressed and then reassembled when it comes out of the cache.

"We're not just sorting blocks, we're looking at the contents of the blocks, calculating signatures on pieces of the blocks and recording the signatures we see most often," he explains. "This helps us do compression in addition to doing caching."

VeloBit received an undisclosed amount of Series A funding over the summer from Fairhaven Capital and Longworth Venture Partners.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "7 hot storage startups to watch" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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