Actifio announced today that it has picked up another $100m in venture funds, swelling its treasure chest to $208m, a large sum even in these days of VC largesse and one that positions the four-year-old, Waltham, Massachusetts company as another billion dollar-value startup. Last Friday, IDG Connect spoke to the firm’s CEO, Ash Ashutosh, a storage veteran who previously founded and led AppIQ and became chief technologist for HP Storage when the latter company bought it.
I start by noting that there’s a whole bunch of startups that are reconfiguring the datacentre fromNimble Storage to Pure Storage, Nutanix, SimpliVity, Fusion-IO and Violin Memory. What makes Actifio different?
“I see a new breed of companies in a couple of buckets,” he says in a phone interview. “The companies you mentioned are redefining infrastructure, going from disk to Flash or to hybrid disk and Flash, and, realistically, they’re doing a file system and better optimising [systems] based on new workloads and application data that’s coming in.
“The second big bucket is companies like Salesforce.com, Workday and so on changing the way the application architectures are being delivered and, somewhere between [the two company ‘buckets’], you have companies like us.”
Ashutosh says that Actifio assumes that infrastructure is “virtualised, commoditised and pretty soon will be cloud-ised” and says his company’s niche is in decoupling the data management from the infrastructure itself.
“We intimately understand the apps and we take that data and manage it throughout its lifecycle and make it shareable and available for analytics and compliance. It needs infrastructure to run on, but we leave that to [companies in the first bucket].”
Think of Actifio as an enterprise version of Apple’s Time Machine, the software that backs up files and configurations and lets users ‘go back in time’ when needed. Actifio is a platform designed to go beyond compression and de-duplication and take data storage efficiency into the realms of workflow management. The net benefit is a more streamlined environment for test/dev data management and data recovery and it’s a formula that’s already taking a bite out of the likes of enterprise backup giants like Symantec, CommVault and EMC because it addresses the issue that “everybody hates their backup software because, oh my god that is painful,” claims Ashutosh.
Ashutosh says Actifio is pulling in deals averaging $390,000 at the enterprise end of the scale and says the company is growing at over 180% per year, selling its appliances and software. It has over an Exabyte (one million terabytes) of data under its control. An IPO could follow by the end of 2015 and the new funding round values the company at $1.1bn.
Challenges? Ashutosh has a few, namely educating the market on the value of what he calls Copy Data Management. But the bigger picture he observes is one of storage (and other enterprise IT) giants struggling as they are pulled out of comfort zones by a new breed of “IT 3.0” firms.
“There’s a fundamental change and the last time it happened was client/server. There will be a lot of casualties and when you see these large companies hoarding tons of cache to survive another day, that’s a sign of a wave coming.”
The other big challenge is convincing customers that Actifio is here to stay and has the feet on the street, breadth and stamina to compete against much bigger firms. With today’s news, Actifio has 100 million new proof points.