The 10 Coolest Storage Startups Of 2015 (So Far)

Storage Startups: So Many Possibilities

Investment in the storage industry continues unabated, resulting in a steady stream of startups -- with a lot of investor dollars -- looking to make their innovations stand out in a sea of offerings.

Not all these startups will be successful. If history is any guide, several will draw enough attention to their innovations to get acquisition offers they can't refuse. Others will run out of money and take any acquisition offer they can get. Some will just disappear. And the occasional golden child, the company with the right combination of innovative technology, market acceptance, customer requirements and investor chutzpa, will become the next EMC or NetApp.

For a look at 10 independent storage developers that came out of stealth in the first half of 2015, and will either make it big, get acquired, or become a Wikipedia footnote, turn the page.

For more on the "coolest" of 2015, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review."

TransferSoft: Comprehensive Data Movement

CEO: Allan Ignatin

Los Angeles-based TransferSoft in May came out of stealth mode with the introduction of $3 million in funding, and launched its new HyperTransfer data movement technology.

HyperTransfer, software that can be embedded in OEM applications, allows applications to transfer data between systems and locations at line speed, independent of file size or depth of directory nesting. It can be embedded in Windows, Linux, Unix, AIX and Mac OS X applications. The company said it runs as a service on two or more systems, with no limit to the number of services that can be linked together or simultaneous data movement operations. The company's HyperTransfer PowerPort feature also means that no unique code is required to embed it in existing OEM products or applications.

Komprise: Analytics-Driven Data Management

CEO: Kumar Goswami

Komprise in June unveiled a $6 million round of funding it will use to build out the San Francisco-based startup's data management software.

Komprise is developing a solution that uses analytics-driven adaptive automation to manage the ever-growing amounts of data stored across multiple storage silos. The solution is touted as a way to manage, organize, protect and provide access to data stored locally and in the cloud. However, Komprise said, customers will not be required to change existing processes or infrastructures.

The founders of Komprise previously started Kaviza, a developer of scale-out VDI architecture without requiring SANs that was acquired by Citrix in 2011.

Portworx: Container-aware Storage

CEO: Murli Thirumale

Portworx, Redwood City, Calif., in June came out of stealth with $8.5 million in funding and software that provides elastic scale-out block storage natively to Docker containers. That software, Portworx PWX, lets Dockerized applications execute directly on the storage infrastructure. Docker containers can be persisted and scheduled across physical and virtualized machines and clouds.

With Portworx PWX, customers can quickly deploy stateful, distributed applications into production and let applications scale rapidly without IT intervention. The solution includes container-aware storage to allow data persistence across notes, snapshots and policies at the container level, and provides self-service IT capabilities. An elastic storage orchestrator automatically scales block storage to meet application needs and move storage blocks across nodes as needed.

AccelStor: High-performance All Flash Arrays

Taipei, Taiwan-based AccelStor in June exited stealth mode at the Computex show in Taipei, and introduced its NeoSapphire all-flash storage arrays. The 2U form factor NeoSapphire 3513 features over 1 million IOPS sustained I/O performance, while the 1U form factor NeoSapphire 3411 starts at 11 TB of capacity, the company said. Both feature front-facing hot-swappable drives with automatic data reconstruction upon SSD replacement, and proactive SSD health monitoring and fault tolerance.

Also new from the company is the AccelStor FlexiRemap technology for accelerating I/O-intensive applications. The company also offered a look at its NeoGarnet hybrid storage arrays, scheduled to be released in the second half of 2015.

Hedvig: Distributed Storage Platform

CEO: AvinashLakshman

Hedvig, Santa Clara, Calif., in March came out of stealth with the introduction of a software-defined storage solution the company said not only breaks the tie between storage software and hardware but also provides the widest range of storage services.

The company, which has raised a total of $12.5 million in funding, was founded by CEO Avinash Lakshman, who the company said was a co-inventor of Amazon Dynamo, which eventually became NoSQL, and inventor of Cassandra for Facebook.

The Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform provides a level of abstraction to let compute platforms consume storage regardless of protocol, whether it is file, block or object storage. It provides a wide range of services, including replication, disaster recovery, compression and deduplication, each with its own quality of service.

Infinidat: Advanced Unified Storage Solution

CEO: Moshe Yanai

Infinidat, a startup storage company whose team developed EMC's Symmetrix and IBM's XIV enterprise storage solutions, introduced a massive round of funding as well as a new storage architecture in April.

Infinidat received a new $150 million round of funding, and now has an estimated valuation of $1.2 billion.

The company, based in Needham, Mass., and Herzliya, Israel, also officially unveiled its new InfiniBox storage system, a solution the company called the first to offer unified block, file, object and mainframe storage.

The InfiniBox is a high-density, high-performance, low-power-consumption storage system the company said costs less on a per-gigabyte basis than other enterprise-class storage. It offers over 750,000 IOPS performance, with more than 12 GBps of throughput. And it does so with seven nines, or 99.99999 percent, uptime, which translates to less than 3 seconds of planned or unplanned downtime per year.

NexGen Storage: PCIe Flash Acceleration

CEO: John Spiers

Louisville, Colo.-based NexGen Storage emerged from stealth mode in January with the introduction of new hybrid flash and disk arrays, which take advantage of PCIe flash technology and prioritized active cache software capabilities.

NexGen Storage was spun out of Milpitas, Calif.-based SSD manufacturer SanDisk, which got the technology with its 2014 acquisition of Fusion-io. Its solution is based on a purpose-built software architecture to manage PCIe flash, low-cost capacity and storage quality-of-service capabilities. The solution is targeted at accelerating mission-critical applications while providing lower-cost capacity across less critical applications and data sets, such as snapshots and replication copies for disaster recovery.

Cohesity: Converged Secondary Storage Solution

CEO: Mohit Aron

Storage startup Cohesity, Santa Clara, Calif., in June came out of stealth mode with $70 million in venture funding, and unveiled the availability of its first solution.

That solution, the Cohesity Data Platform, is an infinitely scalable converged platform that provides a full range of integrated data protection services, including storage of backup and archival data, and cloud connectivity. Data can be easily cloned for test and development. It also includes an integrated data analytics software application, or allows integration with customers' choice of application.

The basic building block of the Cohesity Data Platform is a 2U hardware appliance with three or four server nodes and up to 96 TB of raw disk space and 6 TB of flash storage. Upgrades and installation are all done without disrupting operations.

Rubrik: Simplifying Data Protection

CEO: Bipul Sinha

Startup data protection software developer Rubrik in March unveiled a huge $41 million round of funding just three months after coming out of stealth with its first funding round of $10 million. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup also released its first appliance aimed at helping customers easily take advantage of a scalable hybrid cloud model for backing up and recovering data.

Investors include John Thompson, Microsoft chairman and former CEO of Symantec; Frank Slootman, CEO of ServiceNow and former Data Domain CEO; Mark Leslie, former CEO of Veritas; and Dheeraj Pandey, founder and CEO of Nutanix.

Rubrik's new Rubrik r300 is a hardware appliance that ties the company's data protection software with an industry-standard server to offer a scale-out solution for keeping a company up and running in case of data loss.

Qumulo: Data-Aware Scale-Out NAS Solution

CEO: Peter Godman

Seattle-based Qumulo in March came out of stealth with a solution for data-aware scale-out NAS. Qumulo, whose founding team includes some of the top folks behind Isilon, the scale-out NAS vendor acquired by EMC in 2010, has already received $67 million. The company develops software that can be deployed on commodity servers to deliver information on millions of files stored in file format.

Qumulo's claim to fame is the data awareness its technology offers. Qumulo's file system has an integrated database that provides the ability to answer any questions about what is stored without needing to scan the data for metadata that must be separately stored and managed.