Scalable NAS Technology Developer Qumulo Raises $93M With An Eye On Growth Via The Channel

Cloud NAS technology developer Qumulo Wednesday unveiled the closing of a new $93 million round of funding the company expects could give it the growth to make it the last funding round it needs.

With the new D round of funding, which brings total funding in the company to $233 million, Qumulo is poised for its next stage of exponential growth in the public cloud and storage software business, said Bill Richter, CEO of the Seattle-based storage vendor.

Qumulo started six and a half years ago with development of technology that allowed file-based data to be as easily and quickly stored on public clouds as it is on purpose-built NAS appliances, Richter told CRN.

[Related: Scalable File System Startup Qumulo Hires Storage Channel Vet Leonard Iventosch]

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"Back then, we needed a new file system to fill the need," he said. "Now this is our growth round. This will help us with tier-one innovations. And it comes at a time when competitors are downgrading their R&D, or cash-cowing their legacy business."

Qumulo was formed in 2012 by key veterans of Dell EMC's Isilon scale-out NAS business. It is the developer of the Qumulo File Fabric, a scalable file storage system that runs in the data center and the public cloud. It scales to up to billions of files, and can manage small files as efficiently as it does large files, letting customers manage file-based data at petabyte and global scale, the company said.

The company's technology is software-defined storage, and runs on either Qumulo-supplied hardware or on HPE Apollo server appliances.

Richter said that although Qumulo is not yet cash-flow-positive, the company is "very much in a growth mode."

"This round was sized so that it could be the last round we need to raise. We set it up so that that question is in our hands to survive," he said.

The new funding round will go into three areas, Richter said. Part will go toward investments in innovation, part to go-to-market activities including new field resources and enablement activities and tools for channel partners, and part toward investment in internal operations to ensure the company can grow, he said.

The round was lead by BlackRock Private Equity Partners, and included investment from strategic investors Goldman Sachs and Western Digital, Richter said.

That new round is a huge plus when it comes to bringing Qumulo to market, said Aaron Cardenas, CEO and founder of P1 Technologies, a Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based solution provider and Qumulo channel partner.

"In this day and age, storage is a war of attrition," Cardenas told CRN. "Being well-funded and being conservative with spending is key to success. Some companies spend a ton of money to get fast growth. But Qumulo stays in its own lane, and focuses on organic growth. A lot of storage companies have gone belly up. But Qumulo has been very conservative with its spending."

Cardenas said his company offers customers scale-out NAS technology from both Qumulo and Dell EMC's Isilon business, and finds both to be competitive offerings with clients.

"We've sold a lot of Qumulo," he said. "Customers, including large enterprises, are very happy with it. And we still sell a lot of Isilon. Qumulo has pretty much all the table stakes features. But some workflows work better on Isilon, and some customers are big fans of Isilon."

The business environment for storage vendors who started at around the same time as Qumulo is difficult, Richter said.

"Building a successful business requires vision," he said. "All companies have vision. Then they need to ship products. A few companies do. Then they need to develop solutions to attract customers, great employees, and future capital. Qumulo's leadership team has so much experience. Our founders wrote the Isilon file system. We not only have the vision and the core technology, we've demonstrated we have the business experience."

Qumulo is not just a channel-friendly vendor, but is also a channel-forward vendor, Richter said.

"We don't believe in doing spray-and-pray marketing and then passing leads to the channel," he said. "We believe in joint investments with the channel."

Qumulo has yet to make any acquisitions, Richter said. "We wouldn't take anything off the table," he said. "But investment in our core products is our priority."