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Nirvanix CEO: We’re the cloudiest of them all

Nirvanix picked up $10 million in funding this week and hired a new CEO, who said his new company’s biggest selling point is its sole focus is on cloud storage.

Nirvanix CEO Scott Genereuxsaid unlike competitors such as Amazon, EMC Atmos, Iron Mountain Inc., Microsoft and Rackspace, Nirvanix’s sole mission is to enable cloud storage rather than adapting legacy or storage or backup technology to the cloud.

“We have multiple petabytes under management worldwide,” Genereux said during an interview with StorageSoup. “I couldn’t’ find anybody else who had multiple petabytes of storage under management in the cloud. There are not a lot of companies that just provide a storage cloud.”

Nirvanix hosts and manages data in seven data centers around the world. Genereux said Nirvanix has more than 700 customers using its Storage Delivery Network (SDN), including including NASA and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

“Everybody else is putting the name cloud on everything, but Nirvanix is true cloud,” he said. “Most of what I see out there isn’t cloud. It’s like the old SSP [storage service provider] market, where you would put a product out there in the market that was the same product the customer could’ve bought. EMC does that with its VCE [vBlock] product, then you throw Atmos on it. The products we’re coming out with are file-system based with lower-cost disk. I believe that model works at a lower price point.”

Amazon is Nirvanix’s biggest competitor with S3 for storage and EC2, which provides compute services and drives data to S3. Again, Genereux said the difference for Nirvanix is specialization.

“S3 was built by developers for developers,” Genereux said. “We focus on high-end enterprise customers who expect enterprise grade service. We can supply bandwidth they need. Amazon is an Internet company. Amazon’s a big company and could dominate, but I think with its model it will struggle to grow in this market. We don’t sell movies from film companies, we host movies for film companies.”

Genereux’s resume includes executive positions with Hitachi Data Systems, DataDirect Networks and most recently as senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing of QLogic. He said that experience will help him build relationships that Nirvanix will require to grow. It already has partnerships with backup vendors Symantec and CommVault, whose software provide connectors to SDN. Genereux said one of his main goals will be to build out the Nirvanix reseller channel.

Analyst Greg Schulz of Server and Storage IO points out that as the third Nirvanix CEO in less than two years, Genereux needs to bring stability to the company. And the new funding won’t hurt either.

“They need more money because that model as the host, you have to keep pouring money into it or get acquired by somebody with deep pockets,” he said. “It’s a tough market. Nirvanix has done well, it has an installed base and it’s always in the conversation. But it has to keep converting that into paying customers.”

Genereux replaces Jim Zierick, who became Nirvanix CEO in January of 2009 and will remain on the company’s advisory board.

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