Silicon Valley Series: SolidFire

Name: SolidFire

Product offering: Flash storage

Founded: 2009

Based: Colorado

What problem does your product solve?

Many people in storage today have created storage companies because flash is hot, it's a growing market and there are products to be sold.

But SolidFire is based on a specific problem, and it's the problem of how do I run a large number of high performance applications together in a shared setting without letting one application compromise the performance and integrity of another application that shares the same environment.

It's what we call the 'noisy neighbour', and solving that problem is important to allow large-scale multi-tenant cloud computing to reach its full potential. Today, that's a hard thing for cloud providers or large enterprises to solve. However, we've solved this with a tech called performance virtualisation, which allows you to deliver a guaranteed level of performance to each and every storage volume in the system.

What was the investment?

Overall we have raised $68 million to date over three rounds, with investors such as Samsung and NEA. We've applied the funding to grow the marketing side along with our engineering and sales departments. You need to spread the investment across a lot of different areas to allow the company as a whole to continue to progress. A wonderful product without a good sales team to sell it is obviously not a balanced environment. A lot of investment went into engineering upfront, and as we've gone forward we've rebalanced that and are raising the investment in sales and marketing to make the message available to a broader audience.

Tell us a bit more about the technology.

This is a solid state storage platform with unique properties to it. Firstly it allows you to create a large-scale storage environment. So CIOs can begin with a 4U (four unit) storage environment at about 48 terabytes and scale that in 1U (one unit) increments over time, without the need to rebalance or migrate applications in that process. That ability to scale is extremely powerful for CIOs and CTOs.

The other aspect is the ability to guarantee storage performance to all of the applications that live within that environment. So as I bring more applications on and continue to grow, often what will happen is the performance of one application will compromise another. We've solved that problem by being very specific and articulating to each and every volume in the system and applying a minimum performance – maximum and burse capability to each volume. So as your system gets larger and larger and more applications come in, you have no issue with aligning these applications very closely to one another.

Another point of difference for us is automation. The ability to automate every aspect of a storage system is extremely important. When you think about companies that move into the next generation data centre, they're thinking about things differently. They're not thinking about applying one storage solution to one problem with one person managing it. That's very siloed thinking. We're moving into an environment where people are thinking about shared infrastructure and running thousands of applications. Two other features of the system are high availability – being highly available at scale is extremely important – and efficiency. Being efficient at scale is also important. A lot of people think solid state is too expensive and only for a very small set of applications. SolidFire can bring the cost of solid state down below $3 a gigabyte.

At the end of the day, there are five elements that make us unique: scale, guaranteed storage performance, automation, efficiency and high availability. We combine all of that together in a single package.

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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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