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Scale-out startup Qumulo gets $40M, prepares to launch

Qumulo, the file storage startup founded by engineers who designed Isilon’s clustered NAS, closed a $40 million B funding round today and plans its initial product launch “really soon.”

The Seattle-based company now has $67 million in total funding. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) led the B round with participation from existing investors Highland Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners.

Isilon founder Sujal Patel is also joining Qumulo as a board member, along with Wen Hsieh of KPCB and Matt McIlwain of Madrona.

Qumulo has yet to announce its product, although CEO Peter Godman said it already has paying customers. The funding round will pay for marketing of the product help expand the 90-person company.

Qumulo has been quiet since its initial funding more than two years ago. But Godman said the startup has had products in the field for a year and has delivered software upgrades every few weeks.

“We’ll be launching really soon,” he said. “We see a big difference between when the product becomes available and when we start trying to tell the world about it.”

What does this product do?

Qumulo’s release mentions scale-out NAS, which is what the Isilon team developed and sold to EMC for $2.25 billion in 2010. But Godman said Qumulo sets out to solve a different problem than Isilon.

“In the 2000s we helped people scale storage, but we didn’t scale data,” said Godman, who was director of software engineering at Isilon.

“With Isilon we set out to solve an earlier problem – taking lots of little buckets where you put data and move them into larger buckets to scale. That was the 2000s-era of data storage. But as people began building giant buckets, it became easier to manage storage but no easier to manage data. In fact, it may be harder than ever to manage data and answer questions about it – what do I have, what is growing, what’s valuable to my company, who’s using what, where does that performance go? Isolating the bottleneck may take hours and hours.”

A few more hints from Godman on the product: it includes a file system with some database functionality but not object storage. (“We still see file storage as essential,” he said.) The software is sold primarily on appliances including solid-state drives (SSDs) and Ethernet, but can be sold as software-only.

“Most people dealing with large data sets are buying appliances,” Godman said. ”But we are a software company.”