The 10 Coolest Storage Startups Of 2013 (So Far)

Storage Startups Make Huge Waves In The Cloud And On The Ground

From the data center to the cloud, and from disk to flash technologies, storage startup companies were busy in the first half of 2013 working to revolutionize how customers from the smallest businesses to the largest enterprises can squeeze more capacity, performance and scalability out of their storage infrastructures while pushing costs down.

Many of those startups face uncertain futures. But, it's not because of technology or channel issues. Instead, several are likely to become prime acquisition candidates for larger vendors looking for a fast entry into new markets the larger companies have not yet been able to exploit.

For a look at 10 of those companies, turn the page now.


CEO: Douglas Brockett

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage startup Exablox in April came out of stealth mode with the Exablox OneBlox, a solution that brings enterprise storage capabilities to the SMB market in a package it says is very attractive to solution providers.

The Exablox OneBlox is a 2U appliance that comes with eight drive bays. Customers can add any hard drive or SSD to the appliances, each of which serves as a scale-out node in what Exablox calls a ring. Users can add any disk drive or any node to the ring, and it is immediately available for use. It includes such storage capabilities as scale-out, deduplication, snapshots, failover, replication, ease-of-use, self-diagnosis and self-repair.

OneBlox is currently available to select businesses with pricing beginning at under $10,000 for a 32-TB solution and under $40,000 for a replicated four-node 64-TB disaster recovery solution.

NexGen Storage

CEO: John Spiers

Fusion-io, developer of high-speed flash memory-based storage acceleration technologies, liked partner NexGen Storage so much it purchased the company.

NexGen until April was an independent developer of x86-based hybrid storage appliances for small to medium enterprises based on Fusion-io's Fusion ioMemory for about $119 million.

With the acquisition, Fusion-io expects to accelerate its SME market with a solution that allows customers to provision both performance and capacity according to their needs. The solution includes Fusion-io's ioControl software, which lets customers independently provision performance and capacity with a software-defined architecture; delivers dynamic real-time flash write caching, read caching and tiering with managed performance targets; provides enterprise-class reliability and performance; and transparently moves data between high-performance and low-cost storage media.

Nimble Storage

CEO: Suresh Vasudevan

San Jose, Calif.-based Nimble Storage unveiled important partnerships with other vendors that take advantage of its flash-optimized hybrid storage solutions. The company in May unveiled the Nimble Storage SmartStack for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) leveraging Citrix XenDesktop running on Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS). The solution combines technologies the 3U Nimble Storage CS440G-X4, the Cisco UCS B-series blade server platform, Citrix XenDesktop 5.6, and VMware vSphere 5.0 update 1 to allow a simplified deployment of scalable high-performance VDI. Nimble also unveiled Nimble Storage SmartStack for Microsoft Windows Server and System Center reference architecture, which consists of a 3U Nimble Storage CS200 Series, the Cisco UCS C-series rack-mount server platform, Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V, and Microsoft System Center 2012. The company said the solution was validated in a Microsoft private cloud Fast Track reference architecture for 75 virtual machines.


CEO: Dheeraj Pandey

While Nutanix technically unveiled its first formal channel program in the 12th day of the second half of the year, the San Jose, Calif.-based converged infrastructure vendor earlier this year unveiled plans to scale out its channel base by recruiting more partners.

Nutanix also hired longtime solution provider Steve Kaplan, the former vice president of virtualization and cloud computing at Greenbelt, Md.-based solution provider Presidio, as its new vice president of channels and strategic sales.

It hasn't been only channel news for Nutanix. The company this year also released its latest converged compute and storage solutions including the NX-6000, which allows storage capacity to be scaled as needed for large data sets, and the NX-1000k, designed for small and midsize businesses or enterprise branch offices.


CEO: Randy Chou

San Jose, Calif. in June closed a Series D round of funding worth $25 million. That brings total funding in the company to $58 million, which company officials said should be enough to carry the company through to profitability.

Panzura develops a FIPS 140-2-certified cloud-integrated storage platform that enables customers to take advantage of public cloud storage services such as Amazon Web Services, Google, the Hewlett-Packard Cloud, Nirvanix, and clouds based on EMC's Atmos cloud storage systems.

The new funding will be used to help with overseas expansion, channel expansion, joint project development with strategic partners, and internal R&D expansion.

Pure Storage

CEO: Scott Dietzen

All-flash storage array developer Pure Storage in May unveiled the third-generation of its enterprise-class array, the FlashArray 400 Series. The FlashArray 400 uses the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's new Purity Operating Environment 3.0 software to double the storage capacity and performance over its previous models and to accelerate virtual machine cloning.

The FlashArray 400 uses Intel's 8-core "Sandy Bridge" processor to deliver up to 400,000 8K IOPs while providing up to 100 TB of usable all-flash capacity.

May also saw Pure Storage unveil a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel, the investment firm that identifies technology companies with solutions that can support U.S. government intelligence requirements. With the investment comes an agreement to further develop Pure Storage's FlashArray technology to meet government needs.


CEO: Mark Weiner

Tel Aviv, Israel-based Reduxio Systems, a developer of hybrid flash and disk storage technology, first unveiled its intent to compete in the storage market by unveiling a $9-million Series A round of investment in the company.

While Reduxio has yet to offer details about its technology, the company claims to have developed a new way to help customers integrate SSDs into their legacy storage architectures.

"Designing a system from the ground up allowed us to break free of all the limitations and to fully take advantage of new network, server and drive architectures,’ said Mark Weiner, CEO of Reduxio, in a statement. "In this way, we can deliver revolutionary functionality to match the particular needs in cloud, virtual machine and structured data environments."


CEO: Radoslav Danilak

Skyera, which last year unveiled its first all-solid-state storage solution, caught the attention of a couple of major storage vendors in the first half of the year.

San Jose, Calif.-based Skyera in March said that Western Digital made a strategic investment in the company as part of a $51-million Series B round of financing. Western Digital, which also participated in Skyera's initial investment, has a joint technology agreement with Skyera.

A month earlier, Skyera said that round of investment was led by Dell Ventures. However, there was no word from Skyera about whether Dell has any technology partnerships with the company.

Skyera's all-flash storage arrays take advantage of low-cost, consumer-grade MLC flash storage technology to offer flash storage solutions at about $3 per GB, or under $1 per GB with deduplication.


CEO: Dave Wright

SolidFire, developer of all-solid-state storage solutions, was busy in the first half of 2013 trying to get its technology into as many clouds as possible.

Boulder, Colo.-based SolidFire this year introduced a plug-in that automatically allows its solid-state storage system to work in Apache CloudStack environments. The company, which this year introduced support for its block storage technology with the latest OpenStack software release, codenamed Grizzly, also unveiled plans to participate in Red Hat's OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network by implementing a guaranteed block storage performance for its cloud infrastructure.

SolidFire this year also demonstrated support for the use of all-solid-state storage systems in Citrix CloudPlatform-based cloud infrastructures, and also received certification for Rackspace Private Cloud Software powered by OpenStack.


CEO: Kieran Harty

Tintri, a developer of hybrid flash and disk storage appliances for virtualized environments, this year unveiled version 2.0 of the Tintri Operating System, which includes features for managing virtualized workloads across globally distributed environments.

Tintri OS 2.0 is centered on the company's new ReplicateVM software, which enables per-VM (virtual machine) replication based on Tintri's snapshot and cloning technology. Per-VM replication enables easy test and development capabilities using replicated snapshots, running business analytics without impacting production workloads, and implementing disaster recovery programs.

Tintri this year also unveiled a reference architecture for delivering high-performance, low-cost infrastructure for VMware Horizon View 5.2 virtual desktop infrastructures.