Cloud Storage Startup Cirtas Names CEO, Raises $22.5 Million In Funding

Startup cloud storage technology provider Cirtas this week introduced a new CEO and a new $22.5 million round of funding.

Cirtas, San Jose, Calif., is the developer of the Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller, an appliance designed to make public cloud storage work like an on-site storage array with such capabilities as storage, backup and recovery, and disaster recovery.

The Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller looks and feels like a storage array to customers, but instead of storing the data on local devices, it uses public storage clouds such as those from Amazon Web Services and Iron Mountain.

Cirtas named Gary Messiana as the company's new CEO. Messiana is a long-time veteran in IT startups such as Netli, an application acceleration service provider acquired by Akamai in 2007, and Diligent Software, which IBM acquired in 2008.

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Messiana came to Cirtas from Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the investors in the company's $22.5 million Series B round of funding, which the company this week said was recently closed.

With the new round, total investment in Cirtas stands at $32.5 million, which Messiana said is enough money to keep the company moving forward even if the economy and market slows down.

The new round of funding will be primarily used to increase market demand for its Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller, which Messiana said is expected to eventually be sold only through indirect sales channels.

Cirtas' Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller is an appliance with Intel Nehalem processors, 16 GBs of RAM cache, a 64-GB solid-state drive, and 5 TBs of raw hard drive storage capacity.

The cache, SSD, and hard drives are not used to store data. Instead, they provide automated three-tier cache to keep frequently-accessed data handy for high-speed reads and writes while the actual storage of the data is done on one or multiple storage clouds without the need for specific proprietary cloud storage APIs.

The Bluejet appliance encrypts data while it is transiting to and from the cloud and while in the cloud, and provides such features as automated snapshots of data stored in the cloud for use in quick recoveries from user and application errors, and features thin provisioning, deduplication, and a built-in ROI (return on investment) calculator that also provides information for use in chargeback accounting.

Messiana described the Bluejet appliance as an intelligent cloud gateway which sits in the path to the storage cloud.

Next: Intelligence For Local And Cloud Storage

"It has an algorithm to keep data in the local appliance for fast access, other local storage appliances for recovery of lost data, and on the cloud," he said. "It determines the best place to put the data for performance and protection."

While the Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller is set up to do both local and cloud storage for primary data, it is not necessarily the right choice for high-performance applications such as Oracle databases, Messiana said.

"Because data is stored in a cloud, customers don't need to do backups," he said.

For customers looking to work with storage clouds, having local hardware specific to those clouds remains important, Messiana said.

"I don't think enterprises will be comfortable downloading software to control their storage," he said. "With hardware, it's easy to handle updates to the software. And we can tune our hardware to our software."

Performance is also an issue, Messiana said. "If customers only use the cloud for backups, where data is written once, acceleration is not important," he said. "But for primary storage, customers need some kind of hardware acceleration."

Cirtas currently has about 25 channel partners in the U.S., and is in the process of recruiting more, said Josh Goldstein, vice president of marketing and product management.

More specifically, Cirtas is looking for solution partners with both storage and networking experience. Cirtas also hopes that the partners already have a cloud storage practice, Goldstein said.