Dell Leads $51.6M Funding Of Flash Storage Array Startup Skyera

Dell is showing interest in the nascent all-flash array market by taking the lead in a $51.6-million investment in flash storage array startup Skyera.

Skyera on Thursday said that in two rounds of funding it has received investments in the company totaling $51.6 million. That funding was led by Dell Ventures and included investments from other strategic investors. However, the company declined to specify how much Dell invested in the company or who the other strategic investors were.

The funding will be used primarily to ramp up production and R&D for Skyera's all-flash storage arrays, said Tony Barbagallo, vice president of marketing for the San Jose, Calif.-based startup.

[Related: NetApp Lays Out All-Flash Storage Array Strategy ]

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Barbagallo declined to comment on whether Dell has any partnership or other plans with Skyera.

Dell and Dell Ventures also declined to offer details about its Skyera investment. However, Dell Ventures last July set up a new $60-million fund called the Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund specifically for investing in storage startups.

Skyera in August unveiled its first all-flash storage array, the iSCSI-connected Skyera Skyhawk, which is currently being shipped to early access customers and slated for general availability in the second quarter, Barbagallo said.

"Our goal is to get it out the door and prove the technology," he said. "Coming on its heels will be a new model with full high availability features, active-active controllers and Fibre channel and iSCSI connectivity."

More information on that follow-on model will be available by year-end, Barbagallo said.

Skyera's all-flash storage arrays take advantage of low-cost, consumer-grade MLC flash storage technology, Barbagallo said. The management team and R&D personnel at Skyera came from SandForce, which was acquired by LSI, he said.

The company uses MLC technology based on 19-nanometer or 20-nanometer dies that costs about one-third that of most MLC flash technology and about one-tenth that of higher-end SLC flash technology, Barbagallo said.

However, Skyera applies its experience with flash technology to get about 100-x improvement in the life amplification of the flash memory used across the array, giving the array a five-year duty cycle for enterprise usage, he said.

"No one else is offering this technology," he said. "This allows us to offer the arrays at $3 per GB, or under $1 per GB with deduplication."