Flash storage start-up Fusion-io has had a big start to 2009, remaking its management team with former Apple guru Steve Wozniak and just this week landing a $47.5 million funding round.
Fusion-io makes PCIe cards loaded with flash memory that are inserted directly into servers, dramatically speeding up I/O-intensive applications. The company launched in late 2007, and has since caught the attention of Wozniak, who joined the Fusion-io advisory board in October 2008 and in February became the company's chief scientist.
Fusion-io announced $47.5 million in Series B funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and other investors on Tuesday, and also announced that former Novell executive David Bradford has taken over at CEO. Previously, Fusion-io's CEO was Donald Basile, who was appointed to the role in March 2008 but is no longer listed on the Fusion-io management team.
Other investors in the current funding round are New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Dell Ventures and Sumitomo Ventures. The announcement comes one year after Fusion-io's Series A round of funding totaling $19 million.
The $47 million funding round, at a time when the venture capital market has dried up, illustrates both the potential of Fusion-io's technology in particular and the industry-wide interest in using flash-based storage products in enterprise data centers.
"In just over a year, this company has demonstrated through its ground-breaking product offerings that it has the potential to change the way enterprise organizations think about storage," Scott Sandell, general partner at NEA, said in a press release. "This round of funding will enable Fusion-io to build on that momentum and help the company keep pace with the growth demands of the marketplace, while permitting them to continue leading the evolution of network storage."
Fusion-io said it will use its new funding round to "significantly increase production capabilities" to meet rising demand, and to develop new products based on its server-attached storage architecture. While Fusion-io's first product was limited to the server in which it was inserted, the company is now building products that go beyond individual servers and work across the network.
The first such product was the ioSAN, which takes the vendor's basic PCIe card and adds two network-interface ports that transport data using InfiniBand or 10 Gigabit Ethernet, making flash memory available to all servers in the network.
Fusion-io's funding announcement promised more products in the network-attached solid-state storage realm.
Fusion-io's new CEO, Bradford, was the senior vice president and general counsel at Novell from 1985 to 2000, and has held a number of posts over the past decade in the legal world and at several Web 2.0 and social networking companies. Bradford currently serves on the board of directors for Pervasive Software, a database management vendor.
Another flash storage start-up called Pliant Technology also announced new funding. Pliant secured $15 million in Series C funding in March, bringing the company's total funding up to $27 million. Pliant plans to sell to flash-based solid state drives to enterprises through OEM agreements with server and storage vendors.