Actifio, With New VC Bucks, Wants to “Virtualize” Data Management, Become the Next Data Domain

Take two of the more impenetrable terms in the IT industry, “data management” and “virtualization,” and put them together. What do you get? The doubly difficult moniker of “data management virtualization.”

To an outsider, this might sound like enough jargon to kill a small child. But it’s actually pretty straightforward. What’s more, the sector could end up producing the next big storage-software company—something along the lines of Data Domain, which went public in 2007 and was acquired by Hopkinton, MA-based EMC for $2.1 billion last summer (as co-founder Kai Li discussed with me when he was on leave in Seattle).

That’s what Actifio is banking on, anyway. The stealthy startup in Waltham, MA, talked with me yesterday after my colleague Ryan reported the company had completed its $8 million Series A financing round, led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Greylock Partners. The startup’s CEO and founder is Ash Ashutosh, a 25-year data storage veteran, former vice president and chief technologist of Hewlett-Packard’s StorageWorks division, and founder of AppIQ and Serano Systems.

To understand where Actifio fits in requires a little background. The big issues with data centers break down into three pieces. The first is servers and computing power. The second is networking and communication that lets data move around. And the third is data storage and protection. The first two categories have been strongly affected by the trend of virtualization—software that lets companies efficiently run multiple operating systems on a given server, by effectively separating software from hardware and applications from operating systems. Big players in the sector include VMware, Cisco, IBM, Citrix, HP, Dell, and Microsoft.

But Actifio is concerned with the last of the three categories, data management, and here virtualization is less proven. Sure, there are plenty of big storage companies—EMC, NetApp, Symantec, and Isilon Systems spring to mind. But to hear Ashutosh describe it, nobody has quite figured out … Next Page »

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