Former Isilon engineers promise ‘data aware’ storage, at scale

March 16, 2015, 11:56 AM UTC
contract Armin Harris. Kyle Bean for Fortune
Kyle Bean for Fortune

One month after snagging $40 million in Series B financing, stealthy startup Qumulo is delivering on its vision for scale-out storage technology optimized for analytics and other big data applications.

Its goal: help businesses prioritize the petabytes of data they’re collecting (video, images, and other unstructured files) rather than worrying about the storage hardware beneath it all. Its technology is “data aware,” collecting pertinent information that can be used to classify digital assets automatically as they are saved. The chief benefit is speedier retrieval. Early customers include three of the top five film animation studios, a life sciences organization, and a major oil and gas exploration company.

“For the time being, we aspire to focus on pleasing people that need to store large amounts of files, who need to access them at high performance,” said Peter Godman, co-founder and CEO of the Seattle-based startup.

Like many notable companies seeking to disrupt enterprise storage, Qumulo has an impressive pedigree: it was started by engineers from Isilon (acquired by EMC in 2010 for $2.25 billion). Isilon’s founder Sujal Patel actually joined the board earlier this year, around the same time the company closed its latest round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“The team is addressing the major problem of digital data growth and management that will only continue to compound … By attacking the root of the problem—managing the data, rather than managing the storage—new outcomes are possible,” Patel said.

Qumulo’s total backing stands at $67 million. Its storage appliance, which runs on commodity hardware and solid state drives, is priced starting at $50,000.

The company faces many potential competitors in adjacent product categories. They range from vendors selling converged data center equipment, such as Nutanix, to companies like DataGravity that are also talking up data-aware storage, but at a much smaller scale.

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