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VCs palm Igneous $15m to give its Arm-powered backup boxen a leg up

They'll have to show volcanic growth, though

Some $15m has just been shoveled into Igneous Systems by venture capitalists to further develop the upstart's Arm-powered petabyte-scale unstructured data backup, archive and storage box that has a public cloud backend.

The on-premises gear is a collection of nano-servers – disk drives with Arm CPUs strapped to them.

The technology provides backup of file data – billions of files and hundreds of file systems – from primary file stores. The Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud (HSC) – a software, appliances and public cloud integration – includes Igneous Backup, Igneous Archive and Igneous Storage. It consolidates storage for all secondary data, backups, archives and long-term storage with an optional public cloud tier: AWS, Azure or GCP.

Igneous's HSC consolidates management of all unstructured data, and integrates search and retrieval across all tiers of data, primary storage, secondary storage, and cloud. It's said to enable data-centric workloads involving analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

The suite is sold as a service and the on-premises gear is remotely managed.

The company was founded in 2013 when it received $3.1m seed funding. Progress was good enough to earn a $23.6m A-round in 2014 but we have had to wait four years or so until today's $15m B-round. It doesn't look like an over-generous slug of money.

Vulcan Capital and Orca Bay Capital joined existing investors Madrona Venture Group, New Enterprise Associates, and RedPoint Ventures in the round. Vulcan Capital is part of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc.

Igneous will use the cash to grow its business and get more customers buying the product. Ex-Nicira CEO Stephen Mullaney has joined Igneous's board to help in this generally.

Isn't the backup and archive business moving to the public cloud?

Igneous CEO Kiran Bhageshpur addressed this notion: "While horizontal applications are moving to Software-as-a-Service and smaller custom workloads are moving to public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service, there are many enterprise workloads involving key digital assets that will remain hybrid.

"We aim to help those enterprises protect, manage, discover, and learn from their unstructured data living in a hybrid world."

Reg comment

Vulcan Capital partner YB Choi said Igneous is offering its "as-a-Service delivery model in a segment of enterprise IT that has eluded public cloud adoption".

El Reg's storage desk suggests that this is not absolutely true. Witness NetApp's Data Fabric, Arcserve, Veeam, Commvault and others' adoption of public cloud tiers. In fact Igneous Systems is facing a wealth of competition and will have to prove that its on-premises appliance hardware and software outperforms commodity server/storage boxes and competing softwae stacks.

Some of that competition, like Cohesity and Rubrik, is well funded and has high-momentum growth under way. Igneous may well need to show it can erupt into a volcanic growth phase to prevail against these other suppliers.

Get an Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud doc here [PDF]. ®


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