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10 hot business-continuity startups to watch

Oct 22, 201823 mins
Backup and RecoveryBusiness ContinuityCloud Computing

A crop of well-funded young businesses embrace blockchain, machine learning, data analytics and more to stave off costly disaster downtime.

business continuity server data center
Credit: Getty Images

In the current landscape business continuity is about a lot more than natural disasters: Denial of service attacks, ransomware and even network outages can undermine business continuity, and while moving applications to the cloud might seem like a viable solution, cloud providers aren’t immune to outages.

These are just a few of the problems being tackled by the companies featured in this roundup of business-continuity startups. (See how we chose the top 10 companies listed in this roundup.)

You’ll notice that blockchain, machine learning and networking play a big role in their work, and rightly so. Blockchain helps decentralize data; machine learning helps automate backups and recovery; and reliable networking is a must because you can’t have continuity if you can’t access your data.

The startups below offer everything from blockchain-based distributed storage to virtualized storage and data management to swarm-computing-based databases. Any one of them could be the upstart that completely reconfigures the storage and business continuity landscape, which is why we’ll be watching them.


What they do: Provide a hybrid-cloud, open-source storage platform 

Year founded: 2015 

Funding: $7.5M in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz

Headquarters: Berkeley, Calif. 

CEO: Haoyuan Li, a Computer Science his Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley who served as a software engineer for Conviva.

Problem they solve: As machine learning, data analytics, and AI make app-to-app communications business critical, business continuity takes on new meaning. Business continuity is now about more than just protecting data and making it available to knowledge workers. Now, business continuity means that data must be usable (unified) and instantly accessible to any application anywhere in the world, in any cloud, on any infrastructure.

Moreover, many analytics, such as with cybersecurity, must be executed in near real-time to have value, meaning any bottleneck exposes your data, applications, and business to risk.

How they solve it: Alluxio’s memory-centric virtual distributed storage system provides global access to all of the data in your enterprise – on-premises, in the cloud or hybrid. Applications have a single point of access to multiple independent storage systems regardless of physical location.

Server-side API translation converts from a client-side interface to any storage interface. Alluxio manages communication between applications and file or object storage, eliminating the need for complex system configuration and management. File data can look like object data and vice versa. If you have multiple versions of HDFS in your enterprise, Alluxio also gives an application the ability to talk to different versions of the same storage.

Alluxio clusters act as a read/write cache for data in connected storage systems. Temporarily storing data in memory or other media near compute accelerates access and provides local performance from remote storage. This capability is even more critical with the movement of compute applications to the cloud and data being located in object stores separate from compute.

Intelligent caching and data management ensure fast performance, data protection, business continuity and high availability. Caching is transparent to the end user and utilizes read/write buffering to maintain continuity with persistent storage. Intelligent cache management utilizes configurable policies for efficient data placement and supports tiered storage for both memory and disk (SSD/HDD).

Alluxio fits within existing frameworks and enforces the security already in place. User authentication, authorization, access-control and data-encryption policies from both applications and storage are applied within Alluxio. Support is provided for multi-tenancy, Active Directory, LDAP, Kerberos and encryption.

Competitors include: Hedvig, Mesosphere, Databricks and Puppet

Customers include: Alibaba, Baidu, Barclay, CERN, ESRI, Google, Huawei, Intel and Juniper 

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Alluxio is the classic case of a computer science student tinkering with the beginnings of a startup while still in school. After graduating, Li turned his lab experiment into the startup Tachyon, which has since been renamed Alluxio.

Alluxio has one round of funding from one investor, but it’s $7.5M from Andreessen Horowitz, which is a good backer to have.

Alluxio has is a long list of impressive customers that include Alibaba, CERN, ESRI, Google and Intel, among others.

The company’s concept of “unified data at memory speed” is compelling. As Big Data, AI, IoT, and other compute/memory/storage-intensive applications continue to penetrate the enterprise, new methods for breaking through bottlenecks will be critical. Moreover, Alluxio’s data unification and intelligent caching make business continuity almost a byproduct of their architecture.


What they do: Provide decentralized data storage that relies on blockchain to protect the integrity of data

Year founded: 2014 

Funding: $22.3M, which includes a $1M investment in March 2018 led by NEO Global Capital, and a $19.5M ICO raised in January 2018.

Headquarters: Singapore

CEO: Pavel Bains, who previously served as CEO of Storypanda and as Studio Director for Threeweave Software

Problem they solve: Centralized database storage creates a number of problems, from heightened risk of data breaches (such as the Equifax, Yahoo!, and British Airways breaches) to a lack of data integrity (how do you know the data hasn’t been tampered with?) to a lack of system reliability (with a centralized system, a single point of failure can knock everything offline).

How they solve it: Bluzelle’s decentralized database service uses blockchain technology to provide software applications with improved security, reliability and integrity of their data. All of the data in the database is replicated based on the concept of swarm computing; the nodes comprising the swarm are geographically dispersed, thus providing business continuity in the event of natural or human-caused disaster.

According to Bluzelle, this decentralized approach is able to scale in step with business needs, rather than forcing you to predict (and pay for) peak capacity. Moreover, since data is diced up and distributed across many non-deterministic locations, security and business continuity are improved. Even in the unlikely event a breach occurs, the data involved is minimal. And in the event of a disaster, only a small portion of your data will be impacted, and even then it will have been replicated elsewhere.

Competitors include: MongoDB, Firebase (Google) and Oracle Customers include: HSBC, MUFG and BT Asia

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: While the Bluzelle decentralized database is appealing for business continuity use cases, Bluzelle envisions bigger things for its technology suite, envisioning what they call a “data economy.”

Alongside the database, Bluzelle offers framework that supports private data control, data syndication and decentralized web infrastructure. According to Bluzelle, by creating a decentralized data ecosystem, they enable individuals and businesses to have full data control and the ability to monetize that data.

Cloud Daddy

What they do: Provide data protection services for AWS cloud environments

Year founded: 2017 

Funding: This startup is currently self-funded.

Headquarters: Princeton, N.J. 

CEO: Joe Merces, who previously served as CIO of the New York City Law Department and VP  of Product Management for Premiere Global Services. 

Problem they solve: Businesses of all sizes face a continuous onslaught of cyber-attacks, attempted hacks, ransomware-based extortion and other threats. When your data is both a target and a tool to use against you, protecting it must be a mission-critical business priority.

However, effective data protection within this threat landscape is about more than siloed backups. Simply performing backups within a traditional IT environment with standalone IT functions can have disastrous consequences, leaving organizations far more exposed to risk than they think they are.

How they solve it: In addition to backing up data, Cloud Daddy’s in-cloud backup engine incorporates advanced security countermeasures and infrastructure management features. The backup engine features disaster-recovery orchestration, including cross-region and cross-account disaster recovery anywhere in the world that AWS has a physical presence. Cloud Daddy’s service also provides firewalls, rules, templates and access control, adding layers of cybersecurity countermeasures on top of disaster recovery to better thwart cyberattacks and protect backups and replications anywhere they’re stored. 

Competitors include: Veeam (via the N2WS acquisition) and Druva (CloudRanger acquisition.

Customers include: VMOX and Recursion 

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: AWS is a behemoth that’s taking over the world, and Cloud Daddy, despite being only a year old, already has a couple of named customers.

CEO Joe Merces background as CIO of the New York City Law Department, the world’s largest public sector law firm, gives him experience with both the threat landscape and how to handle it within a large, bureaucratic organization. Finally, Cloud Daddy’s approach of unifying backup with security and infrastructure management should appeal to resource-strapped organizations that often neglect DR and business continuity due to cost.


What they do: Provide a distributed, multi-cloud storage platform

Year founded: 2012 

Funding: $52M in total. Hedvig’s most recent round, a $21.5 million Series C raised from EDBI, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder and the Oman Technology Fund, closed in March 2017.

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif. 

CEO: Avinash Lakshman, who co-invented Amazon Dynamo DB and invented the Cassandra NoSQL database. Lakshman previously served as a software engineer for both Facebook and Amazon.

Problem they solve: As more business activities move online, the concept of business continuity must evolve to keep pace. It’s no longer enough to backup, secure and replicate a few key mission-critical databases. Enterprises must now consolidate disparate media types (HDD/SSD/NVMe) spread across distant locations that include on-premises datacenters and multiple cloud locations.

Meanwhile, as knowledge workers increasingly demand remote and mobile access, businesses are challenged to ensure that their applications are always available, responsive, and secure. In addition, they need to worry about GDPR compliance and data-sovereignty regulations. 

How they solve it: Hedvig’s multi-cloud data-management system helps enterprises control both primary and secondary storage. With Hedvig, enterprises can now backup data on-premises and in multiple cloud locations. Enterprises are able to use their existing backup applications, such as NetBackup, Veeam and Veritas, along with a scalable software-defined backup target using commodity hardware.

Users don’t need to buy siloed backup targets. Rather, Hedvig consolidates primary and secondary storage using the same platform and delivers business continuity through a stretched cluster that spans across multiple locations.

Competitors include: Cohesity, Rubrik, Alluxio, Data Domain, Exagrid and HPE StoreOnce

Customers include: Pittsburg State University, GE, Scania, IAG, State of North Carolina and LKAB

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Hedvig has the right ingredients in place to help modernize business continuity. CEO Avinash Lakshman is a database design trailblazer with experience at both Facebook and Amazon. The startup also has $52M in total funding, along with an impressive list of named customers. As business continuity becomes a “must-have” rather than “nice-to-have” feature for even mid-sized businesses, Hedvig’s consolidated, multi-cloud storage-management approach should appeal to businesses with even the most complex data protection use cases.

Imanis Data

What they do: Provide enterprise-class data management that is powered by machine learning 

Year founded: 2013 

Funding: $27.6M. The most recent round was a $13.5M Series B that closed in March 2018. Participants included existing investors Canaan, ONSET Ventures, Intel Capital and Wipro Ventures as well as new investor Asset Plus Capital.

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif. 

CEO: John Mracek, who previously served as CEO of NetSeer, leading it from being a pre-revenue startup through to its acquisition by INUVO. Mracek also held leadership roles at AdKnowledge, eBay, Yahoo!, Adobe and Apple. 

Problem they solve: Enterprises increasingly rely on Hadoop and NoSQL data platforms for mission-critical applications, but traditional data-management tools don’t support these platforms. This creates a massive data-management gap where backup, DR and ransomware detection are all neglected.

Imanis Data argues that these same organizations also need more data mobility, or the ability to move data to and from various clouds, as well as the ability to automatically create test/dev clusters that include sampling and masking of data. 

How they solve it: Imanis Data’s software-defined storage management supports all Hadoop and NoSQL platforms, providing both data protection (backup, recovery, DR) and data orchestration (migration, sampling, masking).

In addition to backup, the platform provides storage orchestration, granular recovering capabilities, and predictive automation.

Imanis Data’s software is powered by machine learning, creating a data-aware platform that is able to perform such tasks as setting up its own backup schedules based on RPO values and copying and moving data at cost-effective times. Organizations are also able to handle compliance and better protect against cyber-attacks through automation. 

Competitors include: Rubrik, Veritas, CommVault and Dell EMC 

Customers include: Capital One, WeightWatchers, Walmart, Verizon, Metlife and Fidelity

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Imanis Data took a big leap forward in March 2018 when it secured its Series B funding and recruited John Mracek as its new CEO. With Mracek on board, the senior leadership team has been instrumental in exits with NetSeer, 3PAR, Datos IO, AdKnowledge and StorWize.

The startup also has an impressive list of on-the-record customers, and using machine learning to automate things like compliance, data protection, and risk mitigation shows promise.


What they do: Provide cloud-based data management and data protection services. 

Year founded: 2013

Funding: The startup has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Real Ventures and private investors.

Headquarters: Toronto 

CEO: Steven Lamb, who founded Nevex Virtual Technologies and sold it to Intel in 2012. 

Problem they solve: The explosion of enterprise data creates complexity at the infrastructure level that undermines business continuity efforts. Problems include data silos requiring separate backup, data and storage-management complexity, as well as vulnerability to ransomware. 

How they solve it: ioFABRIC’s data-management software creates what they call a “data fabric” that spans servers, VMs, containers and clouds. ioFABRIC replicates data locally as well as across sites and clouds, providing redundant business continuity options in the event of a disaster.

The data fabric heals around failures by using additional storage resources to re-replicate the data, protecting the entire system from being affected by any outage. ioFABRIC says it is able to offer zero interruptions, zero losses and zero downtime when disasters hit.

ioFABRIC also provides protection against user error, failures and attacks with immutable snapshots. The snapshots cannot be accessed or encrypted by ransomware. Thus, enterprises are able to recover from ransomware with no data loss, restoring data to any point-in-time, on-premises or in the cloud.

Competitors include: Datto and Rubrik 

Customers include: Mimeo and Skye Enterprises 

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: ioFABRIC’s distributed, multi-cloud approach simplifies business continuity for the enterprise, while its “immutable snapshot” feature is a clever way to combat ransomware.

This is CEO Steven Lamb’s fifth start-up. In addition to selling Nevex Virtual Technologies to Intel, he also co-founded and served as CEO for Border Network Technologies, which grew to the second largest firewall vendor worldwide before it was sold to Secure Computing Corp. Other senior leaders played key roles in exits to UUNET Technologies, Intel and HP.

Morro Data

What they do: Provide hybrid-cloud file services for SMEs

Year founded: 2013 

Funding: Morro Data has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding.

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

CEO: Paul Tien, who previously founded and served as CEO for ReadyNAS, which was acquired by Netgear. After the acquisition, Tien served as the GM of Netgear’s Network Storage business unit.

Problem they solve: As organizations expand to encompass multiple sites, they need to share and sync files among remote teams at multiple locations. Maintaining normal workflows and preparing for disaster recovery is a challenge, especially with new sites coming on and offline constantly.

Traditional methods of using replicated data to share files among sites does not work well, especially considering the large volumes of data modern businesses generate.

Worse, that data is fragmented, distributed among file servers, NAS, websites, emails, and chats. Worse still, that fragmented data is distributed not just across various application silos but across teams in different locations, which makes status-quo backup, sync, share, and business continuity a poor fit for expanding businesses.

How they solve it: Morro Data’s CloudNAS hybrid cloud file services combine a global file system along with local caching to enable the synching and sharing of files across multiple locations.

CloudNAS delivers the local Gigabit performance of NAS, but with the scalability and data protection provided by cloud-first storage. The CloudNAS Global File System (GFS) is layered on top of object storage from the likes of AWS, Wasabi, and Backblaze. GFS gives users a centralized file view via a real-time file sync in the cloud, allowing users to access files in any location through a single file namespace.

Morro Data’s web-based management console provides IT with a single pane of glass to manage devices, user permissions, and analytics.

Locally, Morro’s CacheDrive gateway plugs into any network, providing fast, up-to-date access to data in any cloud. Morro’s Cache & Sync technology eliminates lengthy upload/download times. All files and metadata are fully visible with the most recently used active files cached locally. Users can see and access files instantly with a Network Share drive letter interface, with the CacheDrive behaving like a traditional NAS File Server.

Morro Data CEO Paul Tien says that this approach “brings remote teams together as if working on the same high performance file server without VPN. New site setup and disaster recovery can be accomplished in minutes by adding syncing gateways.”

CloudNAS use cases include primary and archive storage consolidation, multi-site file share and sync, backup, business continuity and DR. 

Competitors include: Panzura, Nasuni, NetApp and EMC

Customers include: Techpoint

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Morro Data’s concept of linking together remote teams and sites via the cloud reminds me of the early days of WAN optimization, now called SD-WAN. (See our 10 hot SD-WAN startups to watch story for more on that hot space.) Extending that model to storage (specifically to backup, file sync and share, DR and business continuity) feels like an obvious next step now that networks can better accommodate this model.

Moreover, CEO Paul Tien has a track record of founding successful startups and leading them to exits. Past exits by him include the ReadyNAS sale to Netgear, the Platform Technology acquisition by ESST, and the sale of MediaChips to OPTi.


What they do: Provide blockchain-based cloud storage

Year founded: 2014 

Funding: $3.1M from Raptor Group, First Star Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and INBlockchain

Headquarters: Boston, Mass.

CEO: David Vorick, who was previously a software developer at IBM 

Problem they solve: Cloud-based hosting and storage is dominated by a few large players, most notably AWS. For many businesses, trading the vendor-lock implicit with on-premises systems for cloud-lock isn’t really an upgrade.

Moreover, moving data out of on-premises datacenters to the cloud introduces a number of problems, including data ownership, availability, security risks, uptime concerns, and business continuity in the event of an outage.

How they solve it: Sia combines peer-to-peer networking with blockchain to provide a decentralized storage platform. Sia connects users and institutions that need storage with hosts worldwide that offer underutilized hard drive capacity. Blockchain technology secures their data and allows this marketplace to run without an intermediary.

Before uploading, Sia encrypts files and then splits them up using Reed-Solomon erasure encoding before distributing them to hosts around the globe. This distribution assures that no one host represents a single point of failure and reinforces overall network uptime and redundancy. Erasure encoding allows Sia to divide files in a redundant manner, where any 10 of 30 segments can fully recover a user’s files. This means that if 20 out of 30 hosts go offline, a Sia user is still able to download files.

Using blockchain, Sia is able to create a decentralized storage marketplace. Sia secures storage transactions with smart contracts, which digitally facilitate, verify and enforce the terms of the contract. Smart contracts allow us to create cryptographic SLAs that are stored on the Sia blockchain. Since file contracts are automatically enforced by the network, Sia has no need for intermediaries or trusted third parties.

Both renters and hosts use Siacoin, a cryptocurrency built on the Sia blockchain. Renters use Siacoin to buy storage capacity from hosts, while hosts deposit Siacoin into each file contract as collateral.

Sia claims that on average its decentralized cloud storage costs 90% less than incumbent cloud storage providers. For instance, storing 1TB of files on Sia costs about $2 per month, compared with $23 on Amazon S3.

Competitors include: Storj, MaidSafe, AWS and Protocol Labs

Customers include: Since this is an anonymous, decentralized network, customer data is hard to come by. However, Sia claims to have 4.1PB of storage on its network from 566 storage providers, with 271TB of that storage currently in use.

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: While blockchain-based storage could one day displace the likes of AWS, it could also complement it. What’s to stop the major cloud providers from monetizing underused infrastructure by adopting something like Sia, which is open-source?

Sia has raised $3.1M in funding, and since it has set up its network in a way that it more or less operates as its own bank with its own cryptocurrency, it will be able to scale up in lockstep with its user base.

IT buyers will be wary of startups like Sia at first, but blockchain-based storage is an interesting way to drive down costs for backup, DR and business continuity.


What they do: Provide a cloud data-control and management platform 

Year founded: 2012 

Funding: $6.4M in seed/angel funding from undisclosed investors

Headquarters: Houston, TX 

CEO: Rick Braddy, who also serves as the startup’s CTO. Before founding SoftNAS, Braddy served as CTO for  Citrix Systems’ XenApp and XenDesktop group. 

Problem they solve: When businesses migrate data to the cloud, they often lose control over both their data and the costs associated with the migration. Cloud-based compute and storage is more agile and scalable than traditional systems, but vendor lock has been replaced with cloud lock, and hardware/app silos that limit scalability don’t magically disappear in the cloud. Moreover, cloud migration tends to be costlier and more complicated than most organizations expect.

How they solve it: SoftNAS Cloud is a Linux-based virtual appliance that’s deployed on modern hypervisor-based systems, including Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and VMware vSphere. It runs as a virtual machine (VM), sitting between existing apps (on-premises or in the cloud) and various cloud-based object storage services, which can be used to provide flexible capacity, as well as backup, DR and business continuity.

The Cloud NAS service provides a POSIX-compliant, ZFS-on-Linux (OpenZFS) filesystem, block and object cloud-storage aggregation, data protection via checksums and storage snapshots, high-availability with automatic failover, block-based replication, data compression, deduplication and auto-tiering via SoftNAS SmartTiers.

SmartTiers enable enterprises to lower costs by automating how aging data is handled, moving it off of expensive storage to inexpensive object storage based on policies set by the enterprise.

SoftNAS ensures business continuity with their DCHA technology (cross-zone Dual Controller, High Availability). It includes automatic failover capabilities, meeting performance and uptime requirements for mission-critical applications and workloads.

Competitors include: Nasuni, infinite io, Panzura and NetApp

Customers include: Modus, Intellisoft, Brainshark, MagHub and The Street

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: While SoftNAS has only raised two seed rounds of funding, they’ve netted $6.4M, enough for the startup to lock down a long list of named customers. CEO Rick Braddy gained relevant leadership experience at both Citrix and BMC Software, while President, COO and CFO Michael Goodwin previously served as a director for Continental Airlines, leading a number of modernization initiatives.

SoftNAS bridges private and public clouds – no forklift upgrades required – and its approach of automating the sunsetting of out-of-date data, but data which must be stored nonetheless, is a feature that should become table stakes eventually.


What they do: Provide a cloud-based infrastructure platform for e-commerce 

Year founded: 2013

Funding: $18M+ from Mohr Davidow Ventures, Grotech Ventures and Benhamou Global Ventures

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

CEO: Sonal Puri, who previously served as CMO for Aryaka Networks

Problem they solve: e-commerce businesses have had a particularly difficult time migrating to the cloud. A cloud skills gap makes it hard for e-commerce businesses not only to migrate to the cloud, but also to manage the infrastructure afterwards.

With many e-commerce businesses servicing a global customer base, these businesses often rely on multiple cloud providers. Thus, they need their e-commerce applications to be resilient in the face of disruptions to any of their cloud providers’ levels of service. Every major cloud provider has experienced unexpected downtime, often resulting in multiple hours of unavailability before service is resumed. This is a lifetime for an e-commerce business, and a disaster that can cost not only revenue, but a loss of brand reputation and consumer trust.

Since site performance can make or break an e-commerce business, performance must be reliable, fast, and always up. For e-commerce, where every second of web latency can result in as much as a 7% loss in conversion, business continuity means much more than data integrity and recovery. For e-commerce, continuity means no downtime, no delays and no data breaches.

Moreover, as online stores migrate to the public cloud, the attack surface area of applications increases significantly. A malicious attack or a denial of service attack can result in significant damage to a storefront’s brand, revenue, and customer loyalty. 

How they solve it: Webscale provides e-commerce businesses with cloud plans that include cloud migration, hosting, management, uptime, and multi-region business continuity. The startup’s e-commerce cloud platform delivers visibility and control over underlying web applications, as well as providing enhanced security features.

Webscale’s Multi-Cloud DR service is designed to keep e-commerce up and performing well, even if their primary cloud provider is suffering from operational downtime, a cyber-attack or a disaster.

The Cloud Backup feature makes a copy of a customer’s entire backend – including the application and data server – on a regular basis. Their Cloud Mirror service enables e-commerce customers to keep a near real-time replica of their backend in an alternate location, usually in another region or cloud.

Both Cloud Backup and Cloud Mirror feature Webscale’s always-on global data plane, which ensures consistent availability, while expediting failover and service restoration. Webscale also  constantly monitors cloud provider availability, as well as its customers’ applications for any issues or outages. If downtime occurs, Webscale will automatically failover to the scheduled primary alternate region.

Competitors include: Rackspace, Peer1, Akamai, Fastly and Cloudflare

Customers include: Murad, Signature Hardware, Snake River Farms, Value Pet Suppliers and Samuels Jewelers

Why they’re a hot startup to watch: Webscale has raised more than $18M in VC funding, has assembled a strong leadership team, and has amassed a long list of named customers. By setting its sights on e-commerce, the startup has identified a poorly served web-acceleration/business-continuity niche in which it has a ton of room to grow. Yes, streaming video might be sexier, but latency on an e-commerce site can be downright fatal in this hyper-competitive market.

If Webscale can deliver utility-like service to e-commerce, enough so that e-commerce businesses consider website performance, reliability and continuity as something they just flip a switch to get, the impact on global retail could be massive.

CEO Sonal Puri has a strong track record with startups. She played a key role in Speedera’s sale to Akamai; she was CMO of Aryaka, which recently announced that it will pursue an IPO in 2019, and if Webscale keeps growing at its current pace, it’ll be Puri’s third big startup success story in a row.