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Scale-Out Infrastructure Startup DriveScale Raises $15M

DriveScale, a Silicon Valley startup that sells scale-out IT infrastructure built from commodity hardware, came out of stealth Thursday and announced a $15 million funding round.

Founded by a group of IT hardware industry veterans, DriveScale’s key differentiation point is enablement of scaling storage resources in a scale-out architecture separately from compute. It’s pitching the architecture as a better way to deploy infrastructure for Big Data.

One of the investors participating in the funding round is Ingrasys, a subsidiary of Foxconn, one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers. Ingrasys co-developed DriveScale’s hardware and will act as its manufacturer. The Foxconn subsidiary is also one of the startup’s first customers, a group that also includes AppNexus, ClearSense, and DST Systems.

The other investors in DriveScale are Nautilus Venture Partners and Pelion Venture Partners. Pelion led the Series A round.

DriveScale is calling its architecture “composable,” a term HPE also used to describe its recently launched product line with many similar aims, including the flexibility to adjust compute or storage capacity independently from each other.

Read more: HPE Rethinks Enterprise Computing

The approach is often referred to as “rack-scale architecture,” which is something internet giants like Google and Facebook use in their data centers. Now, the startup is promising enterprises the kind of rack-scale infrastructure the web giants have been enjoying for years.

DriveScale’s three-person founding team has deep roots in the IT infrastructure industry. Two of the founders, CTO Satya Nishtala and chief scientist Tom Lyon, held key engineering roles at Nuova Systems, a startup acquired by Cisco in 2008 whose technology became the basis of Cisco’s UCS servers and Nexus switches, according to founder bios on DriveScale’s website.

All three founders have deep ties to Sun Microsystems, the legendary Silicon Valley hardware company whose engineering legacy continues to command respect in the industry, despite its business troubles in the years between the dot-com crash and its acquisition by Oracle in 2009.

The third founder is VP Duane Northcutt. He ended up at Sun after it acquired Kealia in 2004, where he was VP of technology. Kealia was a startup launched by one of Sun’s founders, Andy Bechtolsheim, who had left Sun but rejoined it following the acquisition. The Kealia deal was the basis for Sun’s entry into the x86 server market, according to DriveScale.

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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