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SolidFire scores $31M from Samsung to bring more flash to clouds

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In the storage world, high-performing and low-power flash is getting more popular and in turn less expensive. One company pushing all-SSD storage boxes, SolidFire, has reached a new high — or low, depending on how you look at it. It’s claiming that, for the first time, per gigabyte, the price of using SSDs is lower than it is for spinning disk in its brand new storage box.

That particular piece of gear, the SF9010, boasts 10 960-GB SSDs for a total of 34 TB in capacity in a slim 1U configuration — the sort of heavy-duty box that could appeal to big cloud providers taking care of high-performance storage for lots and lots of customers.

The SSDs in the new SolidFire product come straight from Samsung, a major flash manufacturer and vendor. And now Samsung Venture Investment Corp. is leading a $31 million series C funding round for SolidFire, along with contributions from NEA, Valhalla Partners and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. With the new round, SolidFire has now raised $68 million in total. The funding is independent of the decision to source the SSDs from Samsung — the former happened after the latter, said Jay Prassl, SolidFire’s vice president of marketing.

The seeds for Boulder, Colo.-based SolidFire were sown inside Rackspace. (s rax) SolidFire’s founder, Dave Wright, had arrived at the cloud and hosting provider by way of its acquisition of Jungle Disk and was trying to figure out how to deploy high-performance applications in a multi-tenant environment without letting applications interrupt one another’s storage experience. Wright couldn’t find the answer at Rackspace, or from other companies, so he went and started SolidFire, Prassl said. Today, the company talks up its ability to guarantee great service for its customers, which can turn around and sell their customers on the ability to dial in exactly what capacity and performance they want. “It will have no impact on anybody else in the system, and we will be able to charge you more accordingly for it,” Prassl said.

The new money is certainly valuable in its own right; it will be put to use for increased sales and marketing efforts, Prassl said. That could help the company win higher-profile deals (although it does already have customers in Calligo, CloudSigma, ViaWest and other known brands). But backing from the Samsung venture arm in particular is important. Perhaps it could open the door to an acquisition for a company that wants to get as much flash out the door as possible. Then again, it might just give SolidFire access to lower prices, which are ever more critical as the flash market stays hot with large investments and acquisitions.