Summary:

Startup PernixData says its software will pool existing server-side flash running in data centers and make it a sharable resource. That means companies can add capacity without necessarily adding more storage.

PernixData CEO Poojan Kumar

PernixData, the San Jose company founded to be the “VMware of flash storage” is now shipping PernixData FVP hypervisor as the first step in that mission. The software, which will work with any vendor’s flash — promises to take all those resources and merge them into a sharable pool that will let companies scale out their storage without having to buy more capacity.

“We let the enterprise think of their storage capacity in a decoupled manner and allow them to get performance out of their server flash in a scale-out manner without having to replace anything,” PernixData CEO Poojan Kumar told me in a recent interview. “People have their favorite storage infrastructure deployed — Nimble or EMC or NetApp — they can keep that and scale up their capacity — no rip and replace.”

Enterprise pricing for this release is $7,500 per ESX host, but PernixData is working on pricing more attuned for small and medium-sized companies as well, said Kumar (pictured above.)

Perhaps understandably given the company’s DNA, the first release is for VMware shops, but the company has KVM and Hyper-V versions in the pipeline, Kumar said.

While PernixData (originally known as ProximData) says it has a head start on competitors, it is realistic that there will be many of them including storage leader EMC; flash pioneer Fusion-io; and VMware itself, which is pushing into storage and networking virtualization. But it will likely also face several startups — including many coming out of VMware itself. VMware co-founder Diane Greene is personally funding a super-stealthy startup in this space, for example.

Enterprise Strategy Group Senior Analyst Mark Peters said the flash ecosystem is booming and getting more complex by the day. “We have to remember that we’ll end up with a massive hierarchy of flash the same way we had in spinning disk,” he said. Indeed, companies are putting flash everywhere — in the server, in storage arrays, in DIMM cards, as Diablo Technologies just did.

Still, PernixData has resources of its own. In May, it announced $20 million in Series B funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and others, bringing total VC investment to about $27 million.

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