CloudByte chews on Elastistor, sinks teeth into OpenEBS

Startup's internal strategy tensions lead to exec, CEO and board changes

Analysis Startup CloudByte is having a substantial exec and strategy makeover as it embraces an open source approach to containerised storage.

We came across CloudByte just over a year ago when it popped up with its ElastiStor software running on OEM’d SanDisk (now WD) InfiniFlash hardware, the box with a bunch of flash inside it.

ElastiStor supplies storage to apps or VMs in servers and supported:

  • Secure container-based isolation
  • QoS capabilities that guarantee IOPS, bandwidth, and latency
  • Scale out to multiple PBs
  • Single pane of glass management
  • On the fly storage resources reallocation

At the time Greg Goelz was CloudByte CEO and co-founder Felix Xavier its CTO. The company had been started up in 2011 by Srivibhavan Balaram, its first CEO, Xavier and Umasamkar (Uma) Mukkara. It scored a $2.1m A-round in 2012 and a $4m B-round in 2013. Development was based in Bangaloru with a sales and market office in Silicon Valley.

Move forward to January 2017 and Evan Powell, a Cloudian advisor and ex-Nexenta (open source storage SW) and StackStorm CEO, announces he is now CloudByte’s chairman and says:

CloudByte, via the OpenEBS community that builds on many of the technologies that CloudByte has been building and selling for years, is well positioned to be the preferred solution for containerised storage for containers not just because of the underlying QoS isolation bits — though that heritage is important — but also because we and the OpenEBS community are 100 per cent focused on manifesting the intent and latent requirements of the application.

OK, very good. Then he says he is “honored to support our CEO and co-founder Uma”, meaning the CEO has changed, and talks about a new board.

According to LinkedIn, co-founder Uma Mukkara changed from VP Engineering to CEO in June 2016. Christof Zihlman became worldwide VP Sales this month, and joined the board and is an investor. Evan Powell became the chairman this month.

Having a worldwide sales VP as an investor and board member is, well, unusual.

It looks as if CloudBytes has undergone a technology strategic direction change, causing executive change plus board-level changes, and some new investment has come in.

Evan Powell was asked about this and said: “About a year ago, the board and team at CloudByte recognised that storage was getting noisy and filled with heavily funded competitors and public companies essentially buying customers, and started looking at a better way to find users and to build the company.”

We asked about a possible need for funding, given that the last round was in 2013, and he said: “While the total funding is substantially higher than the reported numbers - and we will be doing a funding announcement in about a month that will clarify - I think they were smart to start to look at whether customer usage patterns for the existing software might, along with a view into overall trends, suggest a better approach.”

When did he get involved with CloudByte? “I got involved earlier this year and was enthusiastic about the general idea that the right deep storage technology plus a real "devops" approach in terms of technology and in terms of building a community would be highly promising.”

We also asked about the future of ElastiStor given the emphasis on OpenEBS in his blog post. “The existing ElastiStor product is being advanced and is generating substantial revenues. Customers of that product line have reacted positively about the news of additional funding (again - we'll share details soon) and my involvement and that of Christof as VP of Sales. They see a company that now has a bright future with two adjacent lines of business and additional funding and visibility as opposed to one that had great technology but relatively limited commercial prospects.”

He added: “Regarding what funding we need - we would like to raise funding in a couple of years. For now the focus is on getting the OpenEBS community moving and on supporting and growing the ElastiStor business. We have the best of both worlds - solid underlying technology plus a new community that looks likely to grow in part thanks to the success of Amazon's EBS and of course the Kubernetes ecosystem.

“While the community is new, the heritage of the underlying technology gives OpenEBS at least a couple of advantages versus the entirely newly built and not built for purpose open source alternatives now being used for storage for containers. Versus CEPH in particular, OpenEBS has a bunch of advantages for the specific use case of containerised storage for containers.”

OpenEBS is containerised storage which, via its also open source Maya orchestrator, provides the ability to tier the storage to S3 compatible storage with intelligent caching. OpenEBS has snapshotting, replication, high availability, and back up to S3 features. Find out more here. ®

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