Velostrata Exits Stealth Ready To Tear Down A Barrier To Cloud Adoption

Velostrata, an Israeli-American startup focused on eliminating a major barrier to hybrid cloud adoption, came out of stealth Wednesday to unveil a technology that entirely decouples compute from storage.

The software the company has developed allows users to leverage inexpensive computing power on public cloud CPUs while keeping their data securely on-premise and entirely within their control.

Velostrata CEO Issy Ben-Shaul told CRN the technology should "unlock the power and potential of the hybrid cloud."

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"Up until now, the common belief was storage and compute had to be adequately coupled to provide satisfactory performance," Ben-Shaul told CRN. "Decoupling changes the landscape. It enables customers to remove some key barriers they're having in moving production to the cloud."

Users can take advantage of AWS or another public cloud while keeping their storage and boot images within their own facilities. No other vendor makes possible that kind of resource segregation, Ben-Shaul said.

"We are the first to do this," he said. "We know for sure, because we talk to so many customers, and consistent feedback is, 'We never heard that story before.' "

The company was founded 18 months ago by a group of serial entrepreneurs and a core team of engineers that has worked together for over a decade. Velostrata, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., with its research and development office in Tel Aviv, has raised $14 million in venture capital.

Ben-Shaul told CRN there's no shortage of reasons why users might be hesitant to migrate the contents of their on-prem storage systems to the cloud: security, compliance, regulation, cost, and the time of moving large amounts of data.

One Velostrata customer, a large automaker, had dismissed hybrid cloud because they couldn't get approval to store data with a public host, Ben-Shaul told CRN.

"That was music to my ears as we explained our solution. They are one of our top beta customers today," he told CRN.

Another barrier is the fear of getting locked in with a specific vendor.

Moving "lightweight" compute instances to the cloud, and keeping "heavy" storage on premise, means workloads remain interoperable across environments.

"For the first time, we have the ability to determine dynamically where and when they can run their workloads, depending on cost, capacity they have," Ben-Shaul said.

The company's sweet spot: customers with production workloads that involve large amounts of persistent data, he said.

Velostrata is building a channel, which constitutes its primary go-to-market strategy. The startup has already signed five partners, and is in the process of closing an additional half dozen.

David Iannacconi, principal cloud architect at IIS Technology, a systems integrator with offices across the East Coast, said he has deployed Velostrata's software, tested against it, and has metrics that validate its use.

"It works extremely well. We see it playing a very interesting and significant part of our hybrid cloud portfolio," he said.

IIS is seeing an interest from organizations, especially in health care and financial industries, faced with governance or compliance restrictions in moving data outside their four walls.

Many of those organizations have a massive volume of data to crunch, and would like to leverage compute resources in the cloud, he said.

"It avoids a large amount of time, energy, effort and cost associated with transferring data out to the public domain," Iannacconi told CRN.

As someone who has worked with hybrid clouds for six years, he said, "what Velostrata has done, in my mind, is kind of defied the laws of physics here and created something that's talked about but hasn't been accomplished."

Dan Kerning, CEO of Webhouse, a system integrator based in Baldwin, N.Y., told CRN that Velostrata is "hitting the key spot we're really focusing on for our customers."

A conversation with Ben-Shaul in which the Velostrata CEO explained what the company was doing and how it was going to market convinced Kerning, a former Navy pilot, to participate in the beta program.

"It's very relevant from what we're hearing from the market, from our customers today," Kerning told CRN. "They're all looking at what they can do to push to the cloud, yet maintain their strong grip on their data, where it's going and their security of it."

When Webhouse started pitching cloud to its customers three years ago, the concern they heard most often involved the insecurity of losing control of their data.

That makes Velostrata's solution an easy sell.

"Separating storage is something customers understand immediately. That one line is all it took to get proof of concept going with one of the largest companies in the world: We're going to decouple your compute from storage, give you the ability to flex into the cloud, grow into the cloud, yet maintain that security of your storage," Kerning told CRN.

Ben-Shaul sees a tremendous market opportunity.

Enterprises across the manufacturing, energy and financial services segments are involved in the beta program.

The software is deployed as a virtual appliance that taps into the APIs of cloud providers. Velostrata is beta testing its AWS integration right now, and is adding support for Azure.

"As time moves on, we're going to add more and more public clouds as targets," Ben-Shaul told CRN.