Dell Invests in Object Storage Startup Exablox
Dell joins on as strategic investor, bringing Exablox’s total funding to over $36 million (Image: Exablox)

Dell Invests in Object Storage Startup Exablox

The storage landscape is changing, and Exablox believes it can replace legacy offerings with feature-rich object store

Scale-out object storage startup Exablox is tackling the growth of unstructured data, and it has Dell's attention. The companyrecently raised a $16 million Series C funding round, with Dell Ventures joining as a strategic investor and all previous investors participating. The company has raised $38.5 million total to date.

Exablox provides a turn-key enterprise-grade object-based storage largely targeted to the mid-size market. The company emerged from stealth last year and has now passed the 100-customer mark, with petabytes of storage deployed. The new funding will be split evenly between research and development and marketing and sales.

Exablox developed its own object store, tightly integrated with a distributed file system. An appliance called OneBlox and OneSystem management software couples several features in a solution the company said was easier to use than legacy storage. It comes with enterprise-class features, such as inline deduplication, continuous data protection, remote replication, and seamless scalability to SMB and NFS-based applications.

“It’s blending AWS S3-like scalability down into a device that anyone can deploy,” Exablox CEO Douglas Brocket said.

The storage startup said it tackled the barriers to getting started with next-gen storage, such as complicated installation, cumbersome management, and forklift upgrades. Customers also get the benefits of shared deduplication and data protection.

Brockett said Dell’s investment is great validation for the technology. Brockett dealt with Dell extensively during his time at SonicWall, a company Dell eventually acquired in 2012 for $1.2 billion.

“We have been feeling, internally, as if the market has a need and is ready for this type of solution,” he said. “From our perspective, a company with as much market touch as Dell to validate us with investment reinforces this belief. What Dell saw is this is a way that a broad segment will get their hands on next-gen storage technology. It’s easy and simple to adopt.”

While Brockett touted a seamless user experience, he emphasized that ease of use does not mean technical simplicity. “We’ve taken a large technical bite,” he said. “I think we can take lessons from companies like Apple, who provide a great user interface. A simple UI doesn’t mean the technology is simple – it means doing further work into a great UI.”

Brockett said the Exablox approach to the market is different. Many tech companies with enterprise offerings reach down to the mid-market by “dumbing down” features. “What [people] need to realize is you don’t take stuff away when you go to mid-market, you add stuff in,” he said.

The storage startup is tackling a big market opportunity. Research firm IDC in its Worldwide Object-Based Storage 2014-2018 Forecast Report projects that the file-and-object-based storage (FOBS) market will be $43.4 billion in 2018. Scale-out solutions will represent 80 percent of that market by 2018.

TAGS: Storage
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