ClearSky Data $27 Million Funding Round: Taking Money -- And Inspiration -- From Akamai

Boston-based ClearSky Data, a startup developer of technology to manage data storage across physical and cloud infrastructures, has been working with Akamai for about a year, said Ellen Rubin, ClearSky Data CEO and co-founder.

"We hope there will be a technology partnership," Rubin told CRN.

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ClearSky Data, which in August came out of stealth mode, combines the performance of local primary storage with cloud storage scalability and flexibility, according to the company. It delivers pools of storage with low latency from local points of presence, Rubin said. "What we do is similar to what Akamai did with content distribution," she said. "They're not interested in primary storage. But we feel we can learn from each other."

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Akamai tends to do smaller investments in smaller companies that work in the same direction Akamai does, Rubin said. "Also, any customer we talk to is likely also be an Akamai customer," she said.

ClearSky Data is essentially an MSP that helps customers find a better way to get value from their data, Rubin said.

"We take the entire life cycle of customer data and make it so customers don't have to touch it, while still getting the kind of [service level agreements] they get with their own infrastructures," she said. "We do everything primary storage does."

The traditional answer to a need for more storage capacity is to add faster and cheaper arrays, Rubin said. "But that means there's more infrastructure to manage, more backups to manage," she said. "Or customers can go to a cloud, where they face high latency."

Instead, ClearSky Data brings customers to storage points of presence in colocation centers, including centers belonging to San Francisco-based Digital Realty, Rubin said.

"We are the storage layer," she said. "Our software does the storage functions. We have an edge cache for hot data on-premises, and connect it to the closest point of presence. The data is then written to the public cloud, primarily to Amazon S3."

ClearSky Data also works with other managed services providers, including Philadelphia-based Xtium.

Tim Vogel, Xtium chief technology officer and co-founder, told CRN his company provides its customers with cloud services including disaster recovery as a service and backup as a service, and works with ClearSky Data because of its next-generation storage technology.

Xtium has already started using the ClearSky Data technology for backup and archiving of customer data, and in the next year will migrate preproduction workloads to the technology and look at how to use it for multiregion failovers, Vogel said.

Vogel said his company became involved with ClearSky when it was looking for a way to get rid of the classic storage architectures customers had to purchase and manage on their own.

Vogel knew Lazarus Vekiarides, ClearSky Data CTO and co-founder, from back when Vekiarides was executive director of software engineering for Dell's EqualLogic storage engineering group, Vogel said.

"Laz reached out to us about his solution," he said. "We looked at several solutions. But we saw ClearSky Data as the Akamai of storage."

Xtium considered other technologies, including both traditional storage and cloud gateways, but found them lacking, Vogel said. Classic storage architecture required more management, while cloud gateways typically feature high latency.

"We also looked at traditional storage vendors' storage-as-a-service offerings," he said. "But they were more like storage leases with self-contained capacity. Need more capacity? Bring in more boxes. With ClearSky Data, you need more capacity, just add what you need because the capacity is all on the back end."