9 enterprise-storage startups to watch

Young storage companies are innovating products that range from storage arrays to mainframe storage management to cloud storage and more.

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Competitors include: Apeiron, Excelero, Fungible, Lightbits Labs,  and Pure Storage

Customers include: Sony Innovation Studios, Pixit Media, and Holley Performance Products

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Pavilion Data targets key trouble spots created by the explosion of data associated with new technologies such as AI and edge computing. The startup has secured $58M in funding and locked down impressive named customers. The startup is also led by a senior team with experience at Pure Storage, Veritas, SeaMicro (acquired by AMD), and Hitachi Data Systems, among others.

Pliops

Year founded: 2017

Funding: $115M

Headquarters: Abba Hillel, Israel

CEO: Uri Beitler, formerly head of Samsung’s SSD Controller Development Center in Israel 

What they do: Develop storage optimization solutions.

The startup’s flagship product, Pliops Storage Processor (PSP), is a key-value-based storage engine in a half-height, half-length PCIe card that can be deployed to accelerate a range of workloads.

PSP accelerates inefficient software functions to optimize management of data persistence and indexing tasks for transactional databases, real-time analytics, edge applications, and software-defined storage.

According to Pliops, while software-based key-value (KV) store operations perform core functions for nearly every database, software-defined storage, and analytics environment, they cause a combination of read, write, and space-amplification problems. For typical database applications, write amplification can grow up to 40x and read amplification to 100x, consuming network bandwidth and hampering SSD performance, latency, and endurance. In addition, these applications generate space amplification in the range of two to seven times, wasting storage capacity on inefficient internal structures.

This amplification results in large part from the inherent inefficiency of typical storage blocks being uniform in size, no matter the variability of what they contain. Use cases such as transactional/time-series databases, real-time analytics, IoT/edge, and SDS applications have variable storage sizes smaller than the typical storage block size; therefore, all suffer from the inefficiencies caused by this data amplification.

Instead of a single storage-object size, PSP natively manages objects of different sizes, efficiently packing and managing those objects and contiguously mapping them to standard SSD blocks.

PSP cards can be plugged into existing servers and used to eliminate layers of the database, file, block, and storage management accumulated over decades by legacy architectures. With the PSP, enterprises can increase storage performance and capacity without requiring changes to most user-application software. 

Competitors include: DataCore Software, Fungible, and Scality

Customers include: Sakura Internet, Japan’s largest web hosting provider

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Pliops made noise recently with a funding round that pushed its total to $115M. In February 2021 it closed a $65M round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) and included Viola Ventures, Intel Capital, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Western Digital, and NVIDIA, among others.

The founding team gained leadership experience at Samsung, M-Systems, and XtremIO, and the startup has already locked down Japan’s largest web hosting provider as a named customer.

VAST Data

Year founded: 2016

Funding: $180M

Headquarters: New York, New York

CEO: Renen Hallak, previously VP of R&D at Dell EMC

What they do: Develop storage software.

VAST’s Gemini is managed storage software that is sold on commodity hardware. VAST’s disaggregated cluster architecture allows users to scale storage independently of CPUs and capacity only when needed.

VAST makes use of NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMeOF) to enable commodity datacenter networks to function as scalable storage fabrics that combine the performance of NVMe DAS with the efficiency of shared storage infrastructures.

VAST allows storage servers to be loosely coupled in the namespace, and gives them equal access to shared, persistent NVMe devices over NVMeOF. This architecture enables VAST managed servers to be stateless machines that do not have to coordinate I/O requests with one another. By eliminating cluster cross-talk, VAST contends that its architecture scales better and is more resilient than legacy scale-out architectures.

Competitors include: Dell EMC, Pure Storage, NetApp, and WekaIO

Customers include: Squarepoint, AHEAD, and Enterprise Strategy Group

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: In April 2020, a year after launching its first product, Universal Storage, VAST Data raised $100M in a Series C round of funding at a $1.2B valuation. It has now raised a total of $180M.

VAST Data has also recently shifted its business model to take itself out of the hardware supply chain. Since VAST no longer carries inventory costs, customers no longer pay its markup on the white-label hardware and can scale storage capacity at the same unit price for expansions as for large initial deployments.

(Jeff Vance is the founder of Startup50.com, a site that discovers, analyzes, and ranks tech startups. Follow him on Twitter, @JWVance, or connect with him on LinkedIn.)

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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