Actifio Unshackles Stranded Storage Investment

With a $1.1B valuation and numerous heavyweight customers on the roster, the five-year-old startup is convincing users and investors that its copy data virtualization technology is the best way to tame duplicate data sprawl.

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Actifio Unshackles Stranded Storage Investment
Actifio founder and CEO Ash Ashutosh. (Source: Actifio Facebook profile)

While "faster" and "bigger" are at the top of the list of the sexiest storage topics, copy data management is a silent but potentially revolutionizing force in storage.

The business-as-usual way of making and storing data copies has resulted in a lot of sunk investment for IT. According to a startup called Actifio, unnecessarily stored data consumes 60 percent of disk capacity, drives 65 percent of storage software spending and 85 percent of storage hardware spending.

Actifio's founders have decided to do something about it by creating technology that tames the sprawl, so far successfully. The firm has raised more than $207 million since its inception five years ago and has a valuation in the $1.1 billion range.

It has a number of enterprise and service provider customers, and there have been rumors of an Initial Public Offering in the making, but its CEO Ash Ashutosh wouldn't comment on that.

One golden copy

Called "copy data virtualization," Actifio’s technology removes unnecessary copies. Its Virtual Data Pipeline stores a single “golden copy,” captured at block level, in native format, according to the customer's SLA.

Actifio manages the physical copy moved once and stored anywhere, then uses an unlimited amount of virtual copies for instant access and protection. This is different from deduplication, which is a compression technology that simply finds and removes duplicate copies of data. Beyond taming copy sprawl, Actifio's virtual copies can be used to increase availability or in disaster recovery.

“Organizations spend a significant amount of money in making copies of data, and on their data needs,” Ashutosh said. “In the old model, every time you’d made a copy of it, then run the application on top of it."

Customers to prove it

The company touts more than 400 customers, many of them very large companies whose names the company could not disclose. One customer, KKR Financial services, replaced several disparate products with Actifio's technology.

There are also dozens of Actifio-powered clouds, including IBM's and NEC's. C7 Data Centers is an example of a data center provider using Actifio.

'Underbelly of the storage market'

Beyond cost considerations, the company says it increases agility. “There’s a huge change in the speed along with a lot of cost taken out in the backend,” said Ashutosh.

"This [copy data] market has been the underbelly of the storage market for a long time. There has been revolution in the storage space -- flash arrays, etc. What we decided to do is examine what exactly is stored? We found that a lot of those arrays are storing unnecessary copies of data.”

In addition to cost and speed considerations, there's a strong case for using Actifio for application mobility in the cloud. It can determine what applications can move, what don’t move, and is completely independent of the infrastructure of the end user. Actifio can make sure data never crosses country borders, a concern especially acute since the Snowden revelations.

Actifio Sky virtual appliance

The company’s first foray into the virtual appliance market was Actifio Sky, released in May. It allows users to protect centrally backed-up data locally at remote sites for faster restore times. In the event of a disaster, users can restore data off the central cluster to have things up and running again fairly quickly.

Actifio Sky’s capabilities include:

  • Easy Download and Deploy with a consumer-grade UI

  • Application-centric, SLA-based management for remote data protection and disaster recovery for applications

  • Rapid recovery from remote site failure, centrally, or into the cloud

  • The ability to vault data directly to public cloud storage services, including Amazon Web Services

  • Patented Dedup-Async Replication for network-optimized data replication and space efficiency through Direct-to-Dedupe storage

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