Qumulo bags $40M as clues emerge about mystery storage platform

Qumulo Inc Founders

Qumulo Inc FoundersQumulo Inc. has landed an additional $40 million in funding from investors to help organizations store their fast-growing data troves more effectively. The stealthy startup is staying deliberately opaque about how it intends to improve the storage equation, but there are a number of public clues available that can help fill in much of the picture.

The three-year-old Qumulo is the brainchild of three industry veterans who had previously held top positions at Isilon Systems Inc., a maker of clustered storage appliance that became part of EMC in 2010 as part of a $2.2 billion transaction and which now forms the backbone of its scale-out portfolio. Many of the startup’s engineers also worked at the vendor.

Qumulo is actively touting the credentials of its team as a proof point for its promise to change the scale-out storage market that Isilon helped create. That’s the only information officially available until the startup launches, but a look at its job openings on LinkedIn reveals additional details that can prove valuable in determining where it’s positioned relative to the rest of the segment.

In the description for the position of platform architect, Qumulo specifies that the role will require potential candidates to “define and refine our hardware platforms, which are comprised primarily of off-the-shelf components.” The posting further reveals that the role will require staying current on the roadmaps of various component vendors.

Added up, it’s not difficult to conclude that Qumulo is working on some sort of an appliance, perhaps even multiple models based on its use of plural terms to describe its hardware. Fewer details still are available about the management stack with which the startup presumably hopes to set that commodity bundle apart, but the heavy emphasis on the size of data volumes in its messaging suggests that the software probably focuses on shrinking the footprint of that information.

This would make the most sense from a strategic standpoint as well, since there aren’t too many other products on the market dedicated to that mission. But it nevertheless faces potentially tough competition from Datagravity Inc., another recently funded storage startup with a similar background.

Founded by executives from EqualLogic Inc., a direct rival of Isilon that was likewise acquired by an incumbent vendor around the turn of the decade, Datagravity sells arrays that use built-in analytics to identify and remove redundant data. The startup has raised $92 million to date, about 40 percent more than Qumulo when accounting for its newly announced round.

Venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) led the Qumulo investment, which also saw the participation of existing backers Highland Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners. Isilon founder Sujal Patel is joining Qumulo’s board as part of the funding, along with Wen Hsieh of KPCB and Madrona boss Matt McIlwain.

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