The 10 Coolest Storage Startups Of 2013

EMC Wannabes Fill The Storage Queue In 2013

The storage industry is getting ready for a couple of massive shifts in the business, with hardware array sales down, flash storage and SSD sales rising fast, and software-defined storage technology threatening to disrupt the entire business.

If that doesn't provide an environment for startups to come in and try their hand at stirring up the establishment, nothing does. In fact that is exactly what happened in 2013 as storage startups either came out of stealth mode or unveiled their first products in such areas as cloud storage, flash storage, unstructured data and software-defined storage.

So who will be the next EMC, NetApp, or Hitachi Data Systems?

Coho Data

CEO: Ramana Jonnala

Storage startup Coho Data in October emerged from stealth mode with its introduction of a private storage cloud solution that scales both in capacity and performance to build storage services for virtualized workloads comparable in cost to Amazon's service on a per-GB basis.

Coho Data's solution is based on the company's 2U Coho DataStream storage appliance. Each appliance features 40 TB of capacity, including about 3.2 TB of Intel SSDs and about 36 TB of spinning disk, with up to 180,000 IOPS that can be allocated to various workloads depending on requirements. The appliances also come pre-packaged with an OpenFlow software-defined networking switch, but next year they are slated to work with any SDN-capable switches.

The Coho Data DataStream appliance with 40 TB of capacity and 180,000 IOPS of performance lists for $130,000, including the SDN switch.

Diablo Technologies

CEO: Riccardo Badalone

Diablo Technologies, Ottawa, Ontario, in July came to market with its first product, Memory Channel Storage, which it said bypasses traditional storage infrastructures and leverages a server's existing standard DIMM form factor and DDR-3 CPU interface to access tens of TBs of flash capacity.

Memory Channel Storage is available as a drop-in replacement for standard RDIMMs, which Diablo Technologies said provide persistent latencies similar to that of DRAM as well as the ability to scale linearly by adding additional modules. The result, according to Diablo Technologies, is block storage capacity with latencies reduced by over 85 percent compared to PCIe and by about 96 percent compared to SSDs.

The company is targeting such markets as database, cloud, big data, high-frequency trading, server and storage virtualization, and VDI.


CEO: Doug Brockett

Storage startup Exablox in April came out of stealth mode with a solution that brings the management of unstructured data, but does so with an eye on SMB customers and solution providers. The Exablox OneBlox is a 2U or 4U appliance that comes with eight drive bays. Customers can add any hard drive or SSD to the appliances, each of which is a scale-out node in an Exablox ring. As a drive is added to the ring, it is immediately available for use.

The Exablox OneBlox solution also includes deduplication, snapshots, failover, replication, ease-of-use, self-diagnosis, and self-repair. It scales to up to six nodes and a maximum of 192 TBs per ring. The Exablox OneBlox also features the company's own distributed object-base file system, which provides inline deduplication for primary storage and disk-based protection, continuous data protection, and encryption and replication of all data, all without the need to set RAID levels or LUNs.

Jeda Networks

CEO: Stuart Berman

February saw storage networking startup Jeda Networks come out of stealth mode with new overlay technology for software-defined networks it said brings networked storage to converged infrastructures without the need for Ethernet switches. Jeda Networks' technology takes a pure software approach to storage networking by abstracting the primary services of a storage network from the underlying physical hardware to reduce the cost and complexity of storage in virtualized and cloud environments. Its technology virtualizes a physical storage network into a software overlay using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol that talks to industry-standard networks, as well as scales for users from SMBs to cloud providers. All a solution provider needs is a 10-GbE switch from any qualified vendor, with no other specialized hardware or software required, the company said. One of Jeda Networks' target markets will be converged infrastructure OEMs as well as other storage vendors.


CEO: Yoram Novick

Converged infrastructure technology developer Maxta in November entered the market with software the company said eliminates the need for storage arrays in virtualized data centers.

The company's Maxta Storage Platform, or MxSP, is a software-only virtual storage solution that leverages a server's storage, whether internal or direct-attach external capacity, for use as a global pool that can be accessed by virtual machines on the server. Multiple servers can be clustered together to provide a larger storage pool, allowing any virtual machine on one server to access any storage across the cluster. All the storage can be managed with the same user interface used to manage the virtual machines, regardless of which hypervisor is used. Performance is competitive with midrange storage arrays, and solution providers can tune performance by choosing a mix of flash and hard drive capacity.

Parsec Labs

CEO: Walter Angerer

Minneapolis-based Parsec Labs in October came out of stealth mode by unveiling plans to introduce technology early next year that provides storage virtualization for NAS.

The Parsec Labs technology accelerates data access to existing NAS systems while adding compression and deduplication to reduce storage capacity by about 60 percent, the company said. The technology also supports migration of data to the cloud to overcome capacity limitations while providing zero down time during installation and data migration, the company said.

Parsec Labs plans to lease its storage routing solution to businesses to help reduce their capital expenditure while improving the speed at which upgrades and additional services are added.


CEO: Poojan Kumar

August saw the release of software from storage startup PernixData that ties the flash storage and SSDs of multiple servers into a cluster to provide a high-performance storage tier for virtualized environments.

PernixData FVP is a hypervisor for server-side flash that drops into existing customer deployments to add performance without the need for extra hardware other than adding more flash storage or SSDs into already-deployed servers, the company said.

PernixData FVP is a 100-percent software solution that lets customers keep their existing shared storage infrastructure while taking advantage of server flash to increase storage performance.

It is a clustered software that aggregates server flash into a separate tier to provide scale-out storage performance using that flash, and it comes with all the clustering technology built-in.

Primary Data

CEO: David Flynn

Salt Lake City, Utah-based stealth-mode enterprise software company Primary Data in November made itself known with the unveiling of the close of a $50 million financing round.

Primary Data also made waves because of its co-founders CEO David Flynn and CMO Rick White, both of whom co-founded flash storage vendor Fusion-io.

The company is developing what it called next-generation data virtualization and mobility technologies to manage how information is stored and shared globally, and it expects to bring its technology to market in the second quarter of 2014. That technology is touted as helping span data from flash storage through to the cloud.


CEO: Jeff Flowers

Boston-based SageCloud, which develops storage systems for archival and backup data, in June completed a $10 million Series B financing round the company plans to use for accelerating the deployment of the SageCloud's products with initial customers and expand operations. The company, founded by Jeff Flowers, the co-founder and former CTO of Carbonite, followed up in August by signing an OEM agreement with Avnet's Rorke Global Solutions under which the two are jointly developing new, petabyte-scale storage solutions for cold data expected to be released early next year. SageCloud combines its proprietary software, based on the open-source, high-performance ZFS file system, with industry-standard hardware and low-cost desktop-class hard drives into an on-premise cloud backup and archival solution that can be delivered as a service. The service supports multitenant operations, which the company said allows it to be used similar to the Amazon Glacier cloud archiving solution.


CEO: Joe Arnold

SwiftStack, a startup developer of software-defined storage technology, in March came out of stealth mode saying it had raised $6.1 million in its Series A funding. It has since started its own private cloud offering and signed technology deals with Intel and Seagate.

SwiftStack was founded in 2011 by a team of developers with experience in the Web infrastructure business. The company is developing software-defined storage for object storage in order to make it easy for customers in the Web, mobile and software-as-a-service markets with a heavy mobile focus to run a public storage cloud inside their own data centers. With Swift, the actual object store is decoupled from the management, allowing customers to use commodity storage systems and scale out their storage infrastructures similar to how Amazon S3 does for public clouds. SwiftStack is the core contributor to the OpenStack Swift open source project for developing a highly available, distributed object store.