Silicon Valley Series: PernixData

Name: PernixData

Founded: 2012 by Poojan Kumar and Satyam Vaghani

Based: San Jose, California

Talk about when you started and the opportunity you saw?

The company was started in February 2012 and what we saw in the market was how the data centre has changed drastically in the last ten years thanks to technologies from VMware in which a siloed application has now changed into a virtual data centre where people throw applications inside virtual machines on top of storage architecture.

That led to an interesting problem on the storage side from a shared storage perspective, and that problem had to be solved. Ultimately, people were trying to solve the problem, but in a hardware-centric way using flash as a technology, and we felt there was a need to solve the problem in a very software-centric way, similar to how VMware was built. That led to us building and starting PernixData.

How did you raise money?

We started off with a series A round of finance from a top VC from the Bay area called Lightspeed Ventures. We raised $7 million and went on to raise $20 million last year in a series B round. The first money was used to hire a lot of smart engineering talent to build the product. Like any other enterprise company, it's easy to make a product in Powerpoint but it's hard to make one in reality that can really work in data centres around the world. And we wanted to do exactly that. We didn't want a niche product, we wanted to build a product that can change data centres worldwide.

So the money was used to hire the best of the best engineers in the Valley and other places ,and really build the product. The second round of financing was used to accelerate the sales and marketing efforts, once we established there was a very nice fit from a product market perspective.

What exactly are you doing that's different?

VMware has done an incredible job of blurring the lines between servers. They have built a cluster platform that virtualises computers across a set of servers. We are doing something similar but we are doing it to virtualise any form of storage resources that sit in the server. We are doing it in a way that isn't disruptive to enterprise environments; it has disruptive technology, but like VMware back in the day, it's very nondisruptive to the applications and the infrastructure. To build something truly scale-out, distributed, and, at the same time, non-disruptive to enterprise environments was a very hard problem.

To do it in a software form was hard too because ultimately everyone talks about software-defined infrastructure, but they ship a box. Sure, there's software inside it, but there's a reason they ship a control hardware box because it's easy to control when you ship a hardware appliance. To do it with software, you have less control on how people are going to use your software. That takes a lot of thinking and a lot of knobs that you build in to be able to make it run seamlessly in every data centre out there. 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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