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SwiftStack enters software-defined storage race

SwiftStack, which claims to be building software-defined object storage, today said it has raised $7.6 million in seed and series A funding. CEO and founder Joe Arnold said the San Francisco-based vendor will have more to say about its product next month but describes it as Amazon “S3-style” but not S3-compatible because it uses a different API.

The funding is a tiny amount for a storage startup these days when flash vendors seem to write their own blank checks, but Arnold said it will be enough to expand the 14-person company’s sales and development teams.

According to SwiftStack’s funding release:

“The platform decouples the management from the underlying storage infrastructure, enabling customers to build pools of storage on commodity hardware. As a result, they are able to achieve greater scale, more flexibility and higher durability. SwiftStack’s storage system helps organizations with considerable amounts of data simplify operations to reduce overall operational costs.”

Arnold said several SwiftStack’s engineers are from Rackspace, and built a software-defined storage product based on OpenStack Swift. He said his company is going after a different target market than the other vendors selling object storage.

“We’re a software company,” he said. “We sell a decoupled storage controller that allows customers to take commodity hardware and use that to manage the infrastructure.”

By decoupled controller, he means a controller that coordinates all the nodes in a system by orchestrating data placement and establishing one pane of glass to manage each node.

According to information on its web site, the SwiftStack Node software can run as a service that streams monitoring information to the controller or the SwiftStack Controller can be installed on-premise behind a company firewall.

SwiftStack will use a utility subscription pricing model. According to the web site, the first TB is free for 12 months. Beyond 1 TB, monthly subscriptions start at $10 per TB used for 100 TB and drops gradually to $3 per TB used for more than 1.3 PB used.

Mayfield Fund is SwiftStack’s lead investor with Storm Ventures and UMC Capital participating in the A round.

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