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Tintri raises $75 million for cloud storage; eyes IPO

FORTUNE — Tintri chief executive Ken Klein calls his company’s signature offering “smart storage.” The intelligence comes from its ability to sense and adapt to how virtualized applications are using it — reducing the traffic jams caused by increasing use of a business technology that, through the use of “virtual machines,” more efficiently uses the physical computers on which a business runs.

For many businesses, it’s a big deal. Today, virtual machines are tasked with running large-scale private clouds, critical databases, enterprise applications, and environments that host tens of thousands of desktop computers and mobile devices. Financial services firms, sports and entertainment giants, health care chains, life sciences companies, manufacturers, and retailers all use this technology to keep things up and running. When those processes grind to a halt, so does their business.

Klein likens the traffic jams to an “I/O blender,” using the computing term for input/output. “They know they have a problem, but they don’t know where to go,” he says excitedly.

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Thursday morning, Tintri announced that it raised $75 million in a “very oversubscribed” Series E funding round led by Insight Venture Partners. Lightspeed Venture, Menlo Ventures, and NEA also participated. The round brings the company’s total capital raised to $135 million and values the company at more than $600 million. It’s also the last major round before the company plans an IPO in 2015.

“The market size is massive. It’s a multibillion-dollar opportunity,” says Alex Crisses, a managing director at Insight Venture Partners. “The reality is over the next three to five years, like it or not, the standard will be a hybrid or largely virtualized environment. So the question is, what do you do to maximize efficiency in that environment?”

He adds: “It’s like the gold rush. We’re not selling the gold — that’s VMware — but we’re selling picks and shovels. Everybody’s going to be virtualized, at least everyone with cutting edge infrastructure. It’s a huge priority for everyone at the C-level. Anybody who’s managing an organization, the conversation is starting today.”

Tintri is the anglicized version of a Gaelic term that means “of lightning,” coined by co-founder and CTO Kieran Harty. Since its founding in 2008, it has grown rapidly and closed 2013 with twice as many enterprise customers that it began the year with. Some of them are quite large, including General Electric (GE), MillerCoors, George Washington University, Kawasaki and AMD (AMD).

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The company plans to use its new funds just as swiftly, Klein says: For growing a larger sales force, for signing on more channel partners, for making larger deployments of its products, for reaching into the Asia-Pacific region, where it has a weaker footprint.

It’s a tremendous undertaking — not that Klein is worried about demand for his company’s services. “If Apple would have designed an appliance for the enterprise,” he says with a glint in his eye, “it would have designed Tintri.”