While the traditional storage industry has been largely experiencing anemic growth, at a 2.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021, there are pockets of the market that are seeing high growth and revenue. One such pocket is software-defined storage (SDS). This segment is growing at a 13.5 percent CAGR through 2021, according to IDC.
SDS is penetrating IT infrastructures to meet the needs of the next-generation datacenter. As companies transform their businesses and move operations to the cloud, they are adopting SDS for greater agility, reduced costs, and greater operational efficiency.
IDC defines SDS using the following criteria, “storage software that runs on commodity hardware, does not require any proprietary hardware components like custom ASICs [application-specific integrated circuit chips], and is a standalone storage system.”
Companies are abandoning traditional hardware-defined storage designs for software-defined storage models. “The legacy systems have improved their software to make them easier to use, borrowing some of the ideas of SDS,” said Eric Burgener, IDC research vice president of enterprise storage. “But they will generally always be more complex to manage, and certainly more expensive to buy and maintain.”
SDS is a subset of the larger storage market, and it can be split into four segments: block, file, object, and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), according to IDC. It’s worth noting that Gartner segments this differently into two categories: infrastructure (which would include block, file, object, and hyperconverged) and management (which coordinates the delivery of storage services).
VMware was one of the first companies to support this newer storage model with its software-defined data center and vSAN technology. But as the SDS market continues to grow, there are more companies coming forward with SDS innovations. We’ve identified six SDS companies that we believe are worth watching as this market continues to experience growth.
Cloudian set out to bring object storage to the enterprise. The company launched in 2011 with its flagship product, HyperStorage, a hybrid cloud storage platform.
It has recently updated the platform to include on-premises data centers and multiple public clouds, and it acquired SDS file storage company Infinity Storage. The founder of Infinity invented the write-once-read-many (WORM) file system that most SDS platforms use, including Cloudian. Prior to the acquisition, the two companies launched HyperFile, which used Infinity’s file storage software built into Cloudian’s storage platform.
The platform is widely seen as a way to consolidate data storage into a managed environment, while maintaining cloud-like object storage without obstructing the data.
Founders: Hiroshi Ohta and Michael Tso
Total Funding: $104.1 million (Digital Alpha Advisors, Lenovo, Epsilon Venture Partners, Intel Capital, DVP Investment, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, City National Bank, Eight Roads Ventures, Goldman Sachs)
Cohesity was started in 2013 by Mohit Aron who previously co-founded Nutanix. The hyperconverged secondary storage company has been growing rapidly, and it saw a 600 percent increase in sales revenue over the previous year in 2017.
The company’s data storage platform, Orion, seeks to eliminate secondary storage silos by consolidating an enterprises on-premises and cloud-based secondary storage silos onto a centralized, hyperconverged platform.
Last year, Cohesity updated the platform to combine data protection and scalable file and object storage. The update enabled enterprises to also use Orion as a backup system and a searchable archive for large amounts of structured and unstructured data.
Founder: Mohit Aron
Total Funding: $160 million (Battery Ventures, Foundation Capital, Hewlett Packard Ventures, Accel Partners, Artis Ventures, GV, Cisco Investments, Qualcomm Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Wing Venture Capital, DHVC, Trinity Ventures, InstantScale Capital)
Datrium was founded in 2012 by Data Domain and VMware veterans to create a slightly different model for storage than HCI infrastructure players. It provides open converged infrastructure for hybrid clouds in a way that doesn’t require the overhead of HCI. It does, however, integrate some features of HCI such as scale-out backup, cloud-based disaster recovery, and the ability to scale automatically to overcome bottleneck problems.
When Datrium launched, up until last year, it only had support for VMware servers and virtual machines (VMs), but it added storage support for open source platforms and Linux containers and Docker persistent volumes. This update enables enterprises to manage multiple environments from a single source. The company also enhanced its private cloud infrastructure platform with new scaling functions.
Founders: Boris Weissman, Brian Biles, Ganesh Venkitachalam, Hugo Patterson, and Sazzala Reddy
Total Funding: $110 million (New Enterprise Associates, Lightspeed Ventures)
Portworx is a growing container storage company, which is packaged as a container itself. The company, founded in 2014, seeks to provide container-native storage and enable container use for DevOps and production environments.
Its cloud native data management platform provides automated data services, including data persistence and security, and it saves and stores container data. It can run on any infrastructure using a container, including Kubernetes, Mesosphere DC/OS, and Docker Swarm.
Portworx recently launched an open source stateful storage project, STORK, a storage orchestrator runtime for Kubernetes. The project allows DevOps teams to run stateful applications on Kubernetes and offer storage health monitoring.
Mesosphere recently became a reseller of Portworx’s products, combining Mesosphere’s automated compute service with Portworx’ automated storage platform.
Founders: Goutham Rao, Murli Thirumale, and Vinod Jayaraman
Total Funding: $28.5 million (Mayfield Fund, Sapphire Ventures, GE Ventures, Michael Dell)
Rubrik provides automated data backup, recovery, search, cloud, and development services across cloud and on-premises environments. The company launched the ninth release of its data management platform, Alta, in June 2017 with additional support for a number of physical and virtual environments.
In February, Rubrik acquired NoSQL data backup company, Datos IO. This acquisition is meant to help its enterprise customers undertake digital transformations and AI initiatives. In April, the company released a software-as-a-service platform, Polaris, for data management applications.
While Rubrik and Cohesity are competitors in this market, Rubrik disagrees on the use of the term “hyperconverged secondary storage,” deeming it a marketing term and preferring “cloud data management.”
Like Cohesity, it has seen enormous growth in the past few years as the market explodes. Rubrik was named as an alternative acquisition target for VMware by a VMware investor.
Founders: Arvind Jain, Arvind Nithrakashyap, Bipul Sinha, and Soham Mazumdar
Total Funding: $292 million (Kevin Durant, Greylock Partners, IVP, Lightspeed Ventures, Khosla Ventures)
SoftNas launched its first product, Cloud NAS, in 2013. Its goal was to fill a gap in terms of cloud native services by giving a native storage experience in a cloud environment, according to Arun Chandrasekaran, VP and distinguished analyst for Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure at Gartner.
CloudNAS works as an alternative to hardware-based storage, on-premises network attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SAN), and file servers. It replaces these with cloud object storage, which can be more easily scaled to accommodate enterprise needs.
The three products it launched as part of its makeover are set to make it faster and easier to migrate applications to the cloud while providing backup and recovery.
Founders: Rick Braddy and William Hood
Total Funding: $6.4 million (angel investors)
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