Western Digital Leads $20M Funding For Cloud Storage Tech Firm Avere

Hybrid storage technology developer Avere Systems on Thursday said it closed a new round of funding led by hard drive manufacturer Western Digital.

The $20 million Series D funding round, which brings total funding for the company to $72 million, will be used to scale marketing and operations as the company prepares for an eventual IPO, said Ron Bianchini, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based storage company.

It also marks the first time a strategic investor has joined in funding Avere, Bianchini told CRN.

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Avere develops high-performance NAS filers that are tied to low-cost storage on the back end. Unlike typical NAS solutions, Avere separates the NAS edge technology, which interfaces with applications looking to read and write file data, from the storage capacity on the back end, which can be served by third-party arrays.

The company also offers Avere Cloud NAS, which adds the company's FlashCloud software to its Avere FXT series of edge filers to let them store any files on any cloud-based object storage technology, including solutions from companies like Cleversafe, Amplidata and Amazon, Bianchini said.

"We provide the same performance in front of local or remote storage filers, or local or remote object storage clouds," he said. "We enable customers to stop storing data locally if they want. They can send data to any cloud and get the same performance."

That is probably why Western Digital sees value in investing in Avere, Bianchini said.

"Users are no longer confined to the data center, so they can now start storing much more data because they're leveraging the scale of the cloud providers," he said. "This will drive more usage of storage capacity, and that's Western Digital's endgame."

Avere is an advantageous add-on for any storage architecture, said Alan Dumas, president of Accunet Solutions, a Boston-based solution provider and Avere partner.

"Customers use Avere to offload their performance requirements from other storage arrays to the Avere filers at a lower cost than using high-performance, tier-one storage nodes," Dumas told CRN. "They also use it to move data to the cloud and to manage the data a lot better."

The new round of funding is important as Avere continues to grow but has yet to make a big market splash, Dumas said.

"Avere is growing, but it continues to act like a small company," he said. "I'd like to see them use the funding to get their name out there. If it can be used to grow their sales team and grow their market, that's all positive, because Avere has really good technology."