Avere Systems scored another $14 million in its Series E, attracting the participation of first-time investor and customer Google, in addition to securing infusions of cash from a set of venture capital firms that had participated in previous funding rounds.
The other investors were Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital, and Western Digital Capital. The Series E round brings Avere’s total funds raised to $97 million.
Avere President and CEO Ron Bianchini told SDxCentral the company will use some of the proceeds for general sales and marketing purposes but will devote some of the haul to making its products easier to use by enterprise customers.
The company, which was founded in 2008, basically provides flash-based storage systems. But a byproduct of having built its product line from the ground up has led the company into an interesting niche. It now describes its business as “fast data access for hybrid cloud infrastructures,” which sounds like a winning entry in buzzword bingo but, to be fair, the distinction the company claims defies easy condensation into a short phrase.
One of the key attractions of flash-based storage from the beginning is that it’s fast. That made flash arrays suitable for applications that put a premium on rapid access to data. Flash arrays therefore tend to get deployed physically next to where data is stored.
The hit rate – the rate at which the desired data could be found and retrieved from the flash array – tended to be around 30 percent, Bianchini explained.
Avere’s approach from the beginning was to go all-flash, but to pay careful attention to the software in order to improve on that hit rate. The company wrote a bespoke file system that ultimately enabled its storage arrays to achieve hit rates of 98 percent, Bianchini said.
That helped win it business from enterprise customers with enormous amounts of data and a need to get to it quickly. These include media, financial, and biomedical companies.
Around 2014, the company practically stumbled into a new realization. Avere set up a demo in which it set up systems in three different configurations, one with all resources local, one with all resources local but in Europe, and one with storage in a separate location but connected through the public Internet.
In all three instances, “Spec ran at exactly the same performance,” Bianchini said. “What we learned is that not only can we hide the latency going to big vast arrays of disk, but we can also hide the latency of going to the cloud.”
The ramifications were that Avere could help its customers move to the cloud without any performance penalty – at least not as it concerns their data retrieval.
“We were a data center company,” Bianchini said, but the results of the demo led to a pivot. “We moved to become a cloud and hybrid cloud company.”
A customer could have its compute on-premise and, using Avere’s products, it no longer matters where the data is stored. That gives an enterprise complete flexibility in terms of how it buys storage. “We call it the cloud gateway model,” Bianchini said.
Alternatively, some customers want to keep tight control of their data, plus they might have peaks and valleys in their need for computing resources. Companies in finance fit this profile – their data is highly proprietary and their volume of trading is likely to vary wildly. They can keep their applications and data on-premise, along with a fixed amount of compute resources adequate for average trading days, but then rent compute power in the cloud on an as-needed basis, all without any penalty in system performance, Bianchini explained.
In other words, Avere now specializes in fast data access for hybrid cloud infrastructures. Which explains why Google is working with it and investing in the company.