Green Data Centers: GreenBytes Scores $8M for Energy Efficient Storage

Economic turmoil or not, the appetite for data center capacity continues unabated, which is, in turn, fueling an ever-increasing demand for storage. That has businesses seeking technologies like data de-duplication — which reduces redundant data — to help them cope with storage growth while keeping energy costs in check.

One data storage appliance startup, Ashaway, R.I.-based GreenBytes, stepped onto the scene in earnest this week by announcing that it had scored $8 million in Series A funding from Battery Ventures to coincide with the debut of the company’s GB-X storage appliances. The new storage systems, the GB-2000 and GB-4000, provide on-the-fly, data de-duplication services for active and just-created data, as well as backup and archived data.

“Primary storage”, or top tiers of storage, are comprised of hardware designed for quick data access and are usually reserved for active or just-created data. In corporate settings, these systems need to be high performance, a reflection of their critical status and matching high price tags — it’s not uncommon for them to blow past the $100,000 mark. Beneath this are “secondary tiers” devoted to backup storage, archives and storage of lower priority business data.

But to paraphrase a motto often heard in green IT circles, the greenest data storage is the one you don’t have to buy. De-duplication technology eliminates redundant data and reduces the need to pay for additional capacity. It also points users to the new location of the individualized data so that applications don’t glitch and cough up errors. The closer to the top tiers of storage this process can be introduced — what GreenBytes’ appliances are designed to do – the less data there is that trickles down to other tiers and the greater the potential cost and energy savings overall.

Major vendors like EMC are scrambling to deliver on this potential by fleshing out their data de-duplication product portfolios, making sure they cover every aspect of the storage value chain. And on the VC side, Sunil Dhaliwal, general partner at Battery Ventures and now a member of GreenBytes’ board, remarked in a statement that his firm is pleased to work with the startup as it pursues “the fastest-growing segment of the $20 billion network storage market.”

Whether the market cooperates for GreenBytes is another matter. Despite the technology’s promise, IT managers are still wary about de-duplication, according the a GigaOM Pro report “De-Duplicating the Storage Industry” (subscription required) from Juergen Urbanski, managing director of the consulting and research firm TechAlpha. Since winnowing data down to a single copy “introduces a single point of failure,” Urbanski says that customers are more likely to deploy de-duplication starting with archives and work their way up to primary storage as the technology matures and is able to deflect concerns about data integrity and corruption.

So GreenBytes’ appliances might first see action in storage tiers that aren’t quite as high stakes or lucrative as what the company envisions for it. But that’s OK, for in this white-hot segment of the storage market, especially in light of the “greenification” of all things IT-related, just being in the game could bode well for Battery’s investment.