Google Invests in Avere, a Data Center Storage Supercharger

Startup’s technology “hides latency” to and from enterprise storage clusters

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

March 23, 2017

3 Min Read
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(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)Getty Images

Why spend on flash data center storage when you can make your disk storage cluster behave like flash?

That’s the rhetorical question Avere Systems asks its potential customers. Its appliance and software, when put “in front” of a massive disk storage repository in a customer’s data center or in the cloud, accelerates data delivery to and from applications to nearly match the speed of flash that sits in the same data center as the compute resources.

This week, the Pittsburgh-based company announced a $14 million Series E funding round from five existing investors and one new one: Google. Some of Google’s enterprise cloud customers use Avere to accelerate performance of their cloud servers used in combination with locally attached flash storage in Google data centers.

[Read about the February 2018 acquisition of Avere Systems by Microsoft.]

Notably, the investment did not come from GV, the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, but from Google itself. Avere is an important partner in Google’s effort to lure more enterprises into its data centers.

See also: Google Opens a New Front in Cloud Price Wars

Ronald Bianchini, an Avere co-founder who serves as the company’s president and CEO, describes the technology’s primary function as “hiding latency” to and from an enterprise data center storage cluster or in a public cloud. Its software works with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure too.

Bianchini is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the leading schools in the field of file systems, which has been a reliable source of engineering talent for his company.

Before starting Avere he served as a senior VP at the enterprise storage giant NetApp, to whom he sold his previous company, Spinnaker Networks.

The latest funding round, which also includes Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital, and Western Digital Capital, brings Avere’s total money raised to $97 million, and Bianchini believes it will be the company’s last. “This is the money that gets us to profitability,” he said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge.

Cloud Business Catches Up with On-Prem

Avere started by selling its gateway appliance, which is really good at identifying and caching data applications use on its own flash storage and serving that data to the applications. Lately, however, it’s been doing more and more business in the cloud, where companies use its software to accelerate the way cloud VMs work with cloud storage.

Recently it reached a point where half of its revenue comes from cloud deployments, which are growing much faster than its on-premise data center business. “Avere is an enterprise data center company whose technology is incredibly applicable to the cloud,” Bianchini said. “For enterprise to adopt cloud, eliminating that latency is critical.”

The gateway model works for hybrid cloud deployments too, where a customer deploys the appliance between their public cloud VMs and their on-prem data center storage.

They can also use the appliance for disaster recovery; it can send copies of a storage repository to multiple sites or multiple cloud providers. Some customers use their local mass filer for one copy, and public cloud for another, Bianchini said. This functionality could be used to avoid going down when a big cloud provider suffers a major outage like the one AWS suffered in February.

See also: How to Survive a Cloud Meltdown

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