A collage of profile pictures makes up a wall in the break room at Facebook's data center in Forest City, North Carolina. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

Facebook’s Data Center Powerhouse Spawns another Startup

“Do you believe network is storage?”

That quote is one of the only clues we have about the nature of the latest startup launched by former members of Facebook’s cutting-edge data center team.

Over the last six or seven years, Facebook has become one of the handful of companies whose scale means they’ve had to innovate at every level of data center infrastructure, pushing the envelope in data center and hardware design further than most data center vendors and their customers as a result.

And that means the company attracts some of the brightest minds in the space, who often see business opportunities of their own and eventually leave to pursue them.

The quote above is the only full sentence on the current one-page website of RStor, a stealthy startup headed by CEO Giovanni Coglitore, Facebook’s former senior director of hardware engineering.

See also: How to Get a Data Center Job at Facebook

While at Facebook, Coglitore played a key role in development of cold storage technology using Blu-ray disks. Frank Frankovsky, another important figure in Facebook’s data center hardware story, launched a startup around the technology. The startup was called Optical Archive, and it was quickly acquired by Sony, which Coglitore later joined as CTO, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Here’s Coglitore giving a demo of the cold storage technology while still at Facebook:

RStor also recently brought on board Ken Patchett, who oversaw Facebook data center operations on the US West Coast over the last five years and was one of the key people who presided over development of the first data center the social networking giant designed and built for itself — its Prineville, Oregon, facility.

Patchett left Facebook in March and joined RStor as VP of data center operations, according to his LinkedIn profile. The fact that the startup needs a man with a skillset like Patchett’s likely indicates that the company requires substantial data center horsepower, which means it’s probably planning to be more than a technology vendor.

We’ve reached out to both Patchett and Coglitore to learn about RStor and will write a follow-up piece once we get more details.

Earlier this month, The Information reported that Cisco has invested $80 million in RStor, citing an anonymous source, who also said the network technology giant was the startup’s sole investor.

The startup’s VP of engineering is Conor Malone, who joined in February after a five-year stint at Hyve, one of the official suppliers of data center hardware based on designs that came out of the Open Compute Project, the open source data center and hardware design community Facebook launched in 2011. Malone has been an active OCP member.

Both Coglitore and Frankovsky have also been key figures within OCP, which brings us to another startup that was launched by Facebook and OCP alumni and quickly gobbled up by a giant.

Coolan, started by Amir Michael (who led Facebook’s earliest in-house server design efforts and was one of the founders of OCP), his brother Yoni Michael, and Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook’s former VP of infrastructure and technical operations, applied analytics and machine learning to help data center operators optimize hardware costs. Last year Coolan was acquired by Salesforce, and both Michael brothers are now working in top infrastructure roles for the cloud software giant.

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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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