SolidFire Adds Heat to Primary Cloud Storage with $11M

The cloud-storage funding train rolled on Wednesday morning with Atlanta-based startup SolidFire raising $11 million. New Enterprise Associates led the Series A round, along with Valhalla Partners and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Gary Orenstein profiled SolidFire in June, detailing the company’s focus on providing a scalable, solid-state-drive-based architecture for storing primary data. It should be money well spent by the investors, as SolidFire plays at the intersection of two red-hot trends: primary cloud storage and SSDs.

Presently, many customers use cloud-based storage services for backup or archiving, which are fine use cases but don’t necessarily provide the value of being able to do primary storage in the cloud. Recently, startups such as Cirtas Systems and Nasuni have targeted primary storage in the cloud, although they sell appliances (physical and virtual, respectively) that intelligently route data to cloud provider back ends or, for hot data, to on-premise caches. Cirtas, which aims to replace storage arrays for block storage, has announced $32.5 million in funding since it launched in September, while Nasuni, which focuses on file storage, has raised $23 million in just under a year.

SolidFire’s approach is different. By equipping cloud providers with an SSD-based architecture for data storage, as well as management software, SolidFire can help cloud providers themselves could make a more compelling argument as primary storage providers without relying on middlemen. This would be especially true when talking about applications hosted in the cloud to begin with, as providers could offer block-level storage that performs far faster than spinning disks, and, according to what SolidFire has disclosed about its product thus far, that helps mitigate the performance bottlenecks inherent with virtualized servers and storage. And for those companies not ready to move data to the cloud,  SolidFire also will be targeting private cloud deployments.

Clearly, startups are taking different approaches to storing primary data in the cloud, but the overall trend is definitely worth watching. Customers are looking for ways to take better advantage of the relatively low cost and infinite scalability of cloud storage, or just to improve performance in their own virtualized cloud-like environments, so anything that improves performance without adding complexity should catch on. SolidFire looks great right now because it’s applicable in both situations, but we’ll know a lot more about what it really can do closer to its projected launch later this year.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jpctalbot.

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