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November 6, 2013

Primary Data Gains $50M for Software Defined Storage

Isaac Lopez

Stealth company Primary Data revealed it’s taken in a $50 million funding round to pursue ideas around software-defined data center technology. Founded by David Flynn and Rick White, the original founders of storage vendor Fusion-io, Primary Data aims to disrupt the storage space by reducing data complexity in the datacenter.

Storage shake-up is nothing new for Flynn and White, who first caused disruptions in the high performance storage industry with their ideas around leveraging flash memory to accelerate speeds in the datacenter, and winning customers like Facebook and Apple along the way. After taking Fusion-io from start-up to IPO, both founders left the company and have since formed Primary Data.

While details are not quite clear on what exactly Primary Data is up to, in an interview this Summer with the Wall Street Journal’s Don Clark, Flynn gave some glimpses, and it appears to be complimentary to what Fusion-io is doing. The idea appears to be to take data that needs to be shared but exists in parallel on separate boxes, and pooling it into a single infrastructure.

Per the Wall Street Journal:

[There are] pools of data in computer rooms … where multiple servers have to share the same sets of data. For such “shared-data” jobs, Flynn says, companies frequently buy separate storage systems of the sort sold by EMC, which handle data in one format, and another sort pioneered by NetApp, which manage data in another… The company is developing software–though it actually will come bundled on standard server hardware–that essentially connects all those pools of data together, offering what Flynn calls a “unified file directory namespace” visible to all servers in company computer rooms–as well as those “in the cloud” that might be operated by external service companies.

“Cloud and the performance of Flash have spurred a transition in storage. But it’s not about the storage resources themselves. Instead, we need to focus on the data,” said David Flynn, co-founder and CEO of Primary Data in a statement. “Data needs to live beyond the boundaries of the storage systems that hold it. This is one of the problems Primary Data solves. With record-setting funding, we are now ready to lead the charge to a new era of storage that spans from Flash to Cloud.”

Leading the funding round was Accel Partners, who participated in Fusion-io’s Series A funding round in 2006, and has such names as Cloudera, Facebook, Kayak, and Spotify in their portfolio. “Primary Data’s biggest asset is its team of recognized pioneers in the storage industry,” said Ping Li, partner at Accel Partners. “Their technical strength and remarkable experience in successfully bringing disruptive technologies to market will help to solve a number of data virtualization and mobility problems.”

According to the statement, Primary data is expecting to launch from stealth in the second quarter of 2014, and will have offices in Salt Lake City, Silicon Valley, and Israel.

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