Caching software startup PernixData’s recent funding round was heavy in cash and even heavier in cachet.
The $35 million funding round was far from the richest of the year – Nutanix last week scored three times more – but attracted individual investments from industry heavyweights. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Seagate CEO Steve Luczo and Silver Lake managing partner and founder Jim Davidson joined the round, signifying a good amount of industry buzz around PernixData. The startup’s previous investors includedl Virtual Instruments CEO (and former Symantec CEO and current Microsoft director) John Thompson and former Palo Alto Networks CEO Lane Bess.
PernixData will need that buzz as much as the money as it tries to convince enterprises to run its software on mission critical data. The company’s FVP software virtualizes and pools flash and RAM across servers to accelerate reads and writes to shared storage.
“Most startups try to establish a beachhead, and the beachhead is something like VDI that is not mission critical,” PernixData CTO and founder Satyam Vaghani said. “We go after mission critical applications. Most of our sales are an infrastructure play.”
PernixData claims 200 customers in little more than a year of being in the market.
Those include infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider Virtustream, which uses FVP to help meet service level agreements (SLAs) for the highest performing of its four storage tiers.
“We put teeth behind our latency SLAs with financial penalties,” said Matt Theurer, Senior Vice President of Solutions Architecture at Virtustream
Theurer said Virtustream has flash in all of its SAN systems, a mix of NetApp, pre-Dell Compellent and Hitachi Data System arrays. But he relies on FVP to reduce latency and quickly expand flash pools as new customers come on board running enterprise applications.
“PernixData has the right approach of separating performance from capacity, and it scales linearly,” he said. “But the key for us was that it had write caching.”
Virtustream began using FVP in May of 2014 in its Amsterdam data center. It has since expanded to other data centers, and Theurer said it will soon be deployed in all of its data center sites, which include San Francisco, Vienna, Virginia, two in London and the SuperNAP colocation facility in Las Vegas.
PernixData’s Vaghani said the next version of the software will virtualize file storage to go with its current block virtualization.
Menlo Ventures led PernixData’s Series C funding round with previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Lightspeed Ventures, Mark Leslie, Lane Bess and Thompson participating. Its total funding is $62 million.