Intel-Backed Storage Pioneer Lightbits Labs Raises $42M Round
Joseph F. Kovar
‘We give customers the ability to take any commodity hardware, any commodity server, running on any CPU optimized for Intel [to] basically get elastic block storage in their data center. “And based on that build can be high speed analytic databases, messaging protocols, anything that requires very fast storage,’ says Lightbits Labs Founder and CEO Eran Kirzner.
Lightbits Labs, the NVME/TCP storage developer that’s backed by heavyweights Intel and Dell Technologies, Tuesday unveiled a new funding round that brought $42 million into the company’s coffers.
Participating in the funding round are first-time investors Atreides Management, J.P. Morgan, Valor Equity Partners, O.G. Tech, and Richard Li, founder and chairman of Pacific Century Group, as well as existing investors including Intel, Dell and others.
Lightbits Labs is a software-defined storage solution that creates data platforms that provide high-speed block storage across private clouds, edge clouds, and public clouds, said Eran Kirzner, founder and CEO of the San Jose, Calif. and Tel Aviv, Israel-based company.
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“We give customers the ability to take any commodity hardware, any commodity server, running on any CPU optimized for Intel [to] basically get elastic block storage in their data center,” Kirzner told CRN. “And based on that build can be high speed analytic databases, messaging protocols, anything that requires very fast storage.”
The Lightbits technology is based on a standard the company invented in 2016 called NVMe-over-TCP, or NVMe/TCP, which allows storage to be deployed anywhere in the data center and scale independently of the compute, Kirzner said.
“So you get the most out of both of both worlds, basically,” he said. “It basically allows you to get the agility you need in a data center, including fast provisioning and deployment.”
The Lightbits Labs technology a scale-out solution where a data center can start with tens of node and grow to 1000s of nodes in any quantity, Kirzner said. It also includes intelligent flash management which allows it to work with lower-grade SSDs so that users can get the kind of performance and latency using QLC-based SSDs as they would with enterprise-class SSDs.
Lightbits Labs built the industry’s first NVMe/TCP storage controller, and continues to maintain the NVMe/TCP protocol which is in use with multiple storage companies looking to replace older iSCSI-based storage in modern data centers, Kirzner said.
“Basically, everyone today looking at NVMe-over-TCP realized two things,” he said. “One is that NVMe-over-TCP is going to be the way to deploy storage in the data center. And two, NVMe-over-TCP is going to replace iSCSI deployment. So in modern data centers, you can look at it as the way to deploy storage because it’s so efficient in running on standard networks as they go from 10-gigbits-per second to 25-gbit to 100-gbit and to 400-gbit in the future.”
Lightbits Labs’ new $42-million funding round brings the total invested in the company to over $100 million, Kirzner said. Lightbits Labs will raise additional funding if it sees the opportunity to accelerate growth, although the investment environment in the next 18 to 24 months is unclear given the recession, he said.
The company plans to use the new funding to enrich its technology and to prepare for it for a soft launch with public cloud providers, Kirzner said. It also plans to invest in expanding its marketing and sales activities, he said.
The company is currently in growth mode, and is still about 18 months away from breaking even, Kirzner said. Lightbits Labs currently has about 100 employees, and plans to expand headcount to 150 employees by year-end.
“We already have a significant set of customers that are moving to production and basically increase their footprint with Lightbits,” he said. “Existing customers are spread over the areas of edge cloud providers, private cloud providers, and cloud service providers.”
The company is also boosting revenue with new customers, Kirzner said.
“We have a good collaboration with Intel, both in terms of go-to-market as well as a marketing and engineering collaboration,” he said. “This is part of our channel. We also have a collaboration with Supermicro and with Dell, and we are adding more channel capabilities from OEMs.”
The company is also working with solution providers who build its technology into their servers, he said.