ClearSky Data Raises $20M, Expands Equinix Relationship


ClearSky Data, a startup developer of on-demand primary storage with built-in off-site data protection available as a service, has expanded its capabilities with a new Equinix relationship that brings it closer to customers across the country.

The expanded market reach comes at the same time Boston-based ClearSky Data unveiled a new funding round worth $20 million, including funding from a large strategic vendor, said Ellen Rubin, the company's co-founder and CEO.

The new financing, which is likely not the company’s last, is aimed at building out ClearSky Data's business, which in the first half of this fiscal year has seen revenue double compared to revenue from all of the previous fiscal year, Rubin told CRN.

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Rubin, however, declined to disclose specifics on the privately held company's finances. "We're still building the business," she said. "We don't talk about financials. But we'll do one more round of funding, and then we'll be done with it."

Rubin also declined to identify the new strategic investor in the latest funding round.

"But we’re getting equity investment and a partnership that will lead to a commercial relationship," she said. "It's a large tech vendor, very well-known and with a familiar brand."

Including the new funding round, ClearSky Data has so far raised about $59 million, Rubin said. That includes a 2015 round worth $27 million, which included funding from Akamai.

ClearSky Data exited stealth mode in 2015 with $12 million in venture funding and a mandate to manage data storage across physical and cloud infrastructures to provide the performance of local primary storage with the scalability and flexibility of cloud-based infrastructures.

ClearSky Data provides a data fabric that can connect customers from their primary location to the cloud to simply manage primary, backup, and disaster recover data, Rubin said.

The company’s technology is provided as a fully managed service on a pay-as-you-go offering, she said. "Customers pay for one protected copy of the data, but can access it from anywhere," she said. "There's not need to manage copies, replicate data from the cloud, or build your own infrastructure."

The company provides an all-flash edge appliance for high-performance caching of data, as well as virtualized versions of its appliances, Rubin said. Its technology also includes a private network to connect the appliances to metro points of presence via Equinox so that if there is a cache miss in the appliance, customers can get it from Equinix, she said.

A significant percent of ClearSky Data's revenue already comes from several large channel partners, as well as from Los Angeles-based Unitas Global, a large MSP.

ClearSky Data's new partnership with Equinix, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of co-location and data center services, will give the company an expanded reach across the country, Rubin said.

That expanded relationship, which triples the number of locations where ClearSky Data's services will be available to customers, is important because of how the company's technology was designed, Rubin said.

Equinix has a service called Cloud Exchange which provides a direct and secure connection to all the major public cloud providers, she said.

"It lets customers plug into the public cloud," she said. "And Equinix provides a rich and dense data center experience with access to a dense set of carriers. The new relationship is great for Equinix customers. We link the edge to the cloud. We also have a set of customers who are also Equinix customers or who are planning to be."

ClearSky Data is attractive in that it brings the benefits of the cloud to the data center without forcing customers to change how they manage storage, said Dave Kluger, chief technology officer and principal technology architect at Storcom, a Lombard, Ill.-based solution provider and ClearSky Data channel partner.

Kluger told CRN that his company has always leaned towards emerging technology providers. "Our niche has been the value-add those companies often bring to the table," he said.

ClearSky Data is no exception, Kluger said. The company provides block and file data management using their current applications without the need to rewrite those applications. "This is one of the game-changing technologies out there," he said.

Storcom is still in evangelizing mode for ClearSky Data.

"We're getting customers to understand it," he said. "The company faces a lot of hurdles. The biggest hurdle is the same as for any startup: risk. Some people like to stay with tried and true technology, thinking that they won't lose their jobs."

ClearSky Data's partnership with Equinix is important for Storcom as it has a point-of-presence capability Storcom customers can use in the Chicago area, Kluger said.

He also said he was happy to hear about the vendor's new funding. "This gives them the capital to continue their R&D, as well as giving them more feet on the street," he said