CloudSwitch Doubles Venture Pot, Names CEO; Startup Wants to Make Cloud Computing Safe and Simple for Enterprises

Within a few years, says John McEleney, sheer economics will force most companies to stop buying their own computer hardware and offload some or all of their processing and storage to the cloud. But at the moment, figuring out which business applications can safely be transferred to the cloud—meaning pay-as-you-go, off-premises storage and computing power—is “scary” and “daunting,” McEleney argues.

And that’s the opportunity that his company, Burlington, MA-based CloudSwitch, is moving to address. The young startup’s president and CEO says CloudSwitch is about “making it easier for enterprises to use the cloud—as easy as holding a crayon in your hand.”

McEleney has been leading the company since March, but his appointment was only revealed yesterday, in a press release that also detailed the close of CloudSwitch’s $8 million Series B funding round. Commonwealth Capital Ventures led the round, with support from Matrix Partners and Atlas Venture, who collaborated on the company’s $7.4 million A round this January. (All three firms are in Waltham, MA.) McEleney, the former CEO of Concord, MA-based 3-D modeling company SolidWorks, spent 2008 as an executive in residence at both Atlas and Commonwealth.

Flush with cash—the A round alone would have lasted CloudSwitch until the second quarter of 2010, McEleney says—the 18-employee startup now has to deliver on its vision of a software “appliance” that helps to eliminate the hurdles that are keeping companies from utilizing cloud services. Neither McEleney nor CloudSwitch founders Ellen Rubin or John Considine are saying much yet about the nature of that software, except that it’s designed to extend the applications that currently run inside corporate data centers into the cloud without added complexity or risk. They also emphasize that while they’re calling the product an appliance, it’s entirely software-based—unlike the appliances sold by Netezza (NYSE: NZ), the Marlborough, MA data warehousing company where Rubin was formerly chief marketing officer.

Rubin, whose title at CloudSwitch is vice president of product, says the company’s focus is on “solving problems that would make it difficult for a CIO to take advantage of the cloud…issues like security, simplicity, and being able to take what you have already and not make changes to it, but still be able to use the cloud.” CloudSwitch also says its software will help companies avoid “lock-in,” or the difficulty cloud users experience switching from one provider to another once they’ve customized their applications and data for a particular cloud environment, such as Amazon Web Services or Google App Engine.

From all appearances, in other words, CloudSwitch seems set to become one of the first New England-based providers of cloud computing tools, or what’s being called “infrastructure as a service.” But they’re not like Amazon, which is actually providing cloud infrastructure, or Hopkinton, MA-based EMC (NYSE: EMC), which is also developing cloud services. And they’re not like Stylefeeder, Pixily, or Sonian, to name a few examples of local companies whose Web-based services run on the Amazon grid. Rather, CloudSwitch is designing its software to help regular companies move their existing applications into the cloud, without having to rewrite them to work in cloud environments.

Rubin—whose presentation during the “Xpo” portion of last week’s Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship won second place in a field of four—says the company will keep the exact details about its product under wraps while it’s still in what she calls its “pre-beta” phase. All that’s clear so far is that … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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2 responses to “CloudSwitch Doubles Venture Pot, Names CEO; Startup Wants to Make Cloud Computing Safe and Simple for Enterprises”

  1. rodgerwms2 says:

    How is the different from Appzero?