The 10 Coolest Storage Startups Of 2016

Storage Startups: Many Roads, Many Destinations

The storage industry continues to be fertile ground for entrepreneurs, often serial entrepreneurs, who have a new way to better manage the growing amount of data that businesses collect. It's also a harsh industry, one that does not always forgive investors' mistakes. However, for every Nirvanix that goes out of business, or every Pure Storage that gets its IPO, or every Xangati or QLogic or SolidFire or even EMC that gets acquired, someone else with a new idea steps up to try to take its place.

Not all these startups will succeed. Some of them will draw enough attention to their innovations to get acquisition offers they can't refuse. Others may run out of money and take any offer they can get. Some may just disappear. And every once in a while, one might show the kind of innovation or marketing savvy to truly stand out with enough customer and channel partner interest to one day become a legacy vendor.

For a look at 10 independent storage developers that either came out of stealth or introduced their first solutions during 2016, turn the page.

(For more of our 2016 retrospective, check out 'CRN's 2016 Tech Year In Review.')


CEO and Founder: Najaf Husain

Cloudistics is in the fast-growing hyper-converged infrastructure business. The Reston, Va.-based startup in June came out of stealth with news that it closed a $15-million Series A round of funding let by Bain Capital Ventures.

Cloudistics developed the Adaptive Overlay Network, or AON, software-defined virtual network technology that virtualizes both the network and storage layers with a promise to allow full-line network performance at 10 Gbits per second and 40 Gbits per second. The technology takes advantage of Cloudistics' Elastic Flash Storage, a federated virtualized storage architecture that's optimized for flash and scales independently of compute and networking resources. In December, the company began partnering with network operating system vendor Pica8 to add OpenFlow and software-defined networking capabilities.


CEO and Co-Founder: Marc Fleischmann

Datera emerged from stealth in April to debut its Datera Elastic Data Fabric storage technology for enterprise and service provider cloud systems. In the same month, the company unveiled a $40-million round of funding.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said its scale-out storage software turns standard commodity hardware into a RESTful API-driven, policy-based storage fabric for large-scale cloud systems. The software features multi-tenancy capabilities and offers an all-flash design for high performance. The company is particularly focused on applications in DevOps environments, and works closely with Kubernetes containers and Mirantis OpenStack.


CEO and Co-Founder: Jeff Chou

Diamanti, a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of turnkey networking and storage appliances for Linux containers, exited stealth mode in April with $12.5 million in series A funding and a promise to build appliances for container-based storage. Two months later, the company unveiled support for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform powered by Kubernetes orchestration and Docker-formatted Linux containers. The new solution targets developers looking to build modern, containerized applications ready for production environments and to deploy applications to perform at scale.

Diamanti's turnkey appliance works via the open-source Kubernetes project to integrate with the Red Hat developer workflow so that users can specify their container networks, define storage volumes and deploy applications throughout their life cycles.


CEO: Gene Banman

DriveScale, of Sunnyvale, Calif., exited stealth mode in May with a new scale-out infrastructure that converges compute and storage into industry-standard rack servers. The solution is designed to let customers dynamically adjust compute and storage infrastructure while optimizing resource allocation without the need to over-provision those resources, including in big data environments via a partnership with Hortonworks.

DriveScale automatically discovers available physical data center resources from a rack-scale architecture consisting of pools of industry-standard servers and disk storage. The pool can be disaggregated into separate pools of compute and storage resources and reassembled into logical clusters and software-defined physical nodes as needed.

DriveScale's investors include Ingrasys Technology, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer.

E8 Storage

CEO and Co-Founder: Zivan Ori

Tel Aviv-based E8 Storage came out of stealth in May when it said it received $12 million in B-round funding.

E8 Storage is developing software-defined NVMe-based storage solutions that will leverage NVMe flash storage for high-performance applications. The company's flash storage solution includes a rack-scale architecture for enterprise and software-defined cloud customers, and is expected to deliver 10 times the performance for half the cost of existing storage products using off-the-shelf hardware. In August, E8 introduced the E8-D24 rack-scale flash appliance based on NVMe.


CEO: Amir Aharoni

Herzliya, Israel-based Elastifile develops technology for software-defined, all-flash storage. The company's solution allows commodity servers to be configured as scale-out all-flash primary storage arrays supporting distributed block, file, and object storage. The technology lets customers build hybrid cloud infrastructure by seamlessly extending file systems across on-premises and cloud deployments.

In January, Elastifile unveiled a series B funding round worth $35 million, and in June said Cisco contributed to that round with an unspecified amount.

Igneous Systems

CEO: Kiran Bhageshpur

Storage technology developer Igneous Systems came out of stealth in October with a plan to turn the management of on-premises storage into a low-cost cloud service. The Seattle-based company provides an on-premises storage array that sits behind the customer's firewall to protect the data. Monitoring, management, and troubleshooting of the array and its data are handled over the cloud by Igneous, freeing customers from those tasks.

The Igneous Data Service supports the Amazon S3 standard for cloud-based object storage. Pricing starts at $40,000 per year, which includes 212 TB of capacity, which is under $200 per Terabyte, or about 1.5 cents per Gigabyte, per month.


CEO and Founder: Jay Breakstone

Liqid, of Lafayette, Colo., burst out of stealth mode in August at the Flash Memory Summit when it unveiled solutions that take advantage of PCIe technology to help customers start to build hyper-scale data centers. The company's solutions include Grid, a scalable PCIe fabric and control plane that allows native disaggregation of storage elements and automates them on an application-defined basis for native storage, compute, and networking resources. Liqid also developed the Liqid OS, which provides automation and orchestration of PCIe-based fabrics, and Command Center, which provides a single pane of glass to interface and communicate with Liqid OS.

Last year, Liqid was funded with $5.7 million.


CEO and Co-Founder: Yuval Dimnik

NooBaa, a Rehovot, Israel-based developer of software-defined storage technology, introduced itself in late August at the VMworld conference. The NooBaa software supports any virtual or physical Linux or Windows storage resource, and features machine-learning optimization for resilience and performance. Enterprise capabilities include global deduplication, compression, encryption, and disaster recovery. The company said the software installs in 15 minutes on VMware environments, and provides an Amazon S3-compatible interface.

In November, NooBaa said it had signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft under which its software will integrate natively with Azure Blob Storage. The application is also now available via the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.


CEO: Chris Bourdon

Upthere came out of stealth in July with the unveiling of a new personal storage service and application. The Redwood City, Calif.-based startup also said it received a huge round of funding that brought it $77 million, with Western Digital as one of its two lead investors.

The Upthere Home app lets Android, iOS and Windows users manage photos, videos, documents, and other files in the cloud. Users can search for specific items by typing a few characters or tapping on groups. Objects stored in Upthere are private by default, but users can set up Loops, which are groups of files that can be shared, added to, or commented on by others. Monthly pricing starts at $4.99 for 200 GBs of storage.