Data-Storage Startup Qumulo, Founded by Isilon Vets, Lands $24.5M

Some key participants in one of the Seattle area’s biggest tech company success stories of recent years are back with a new company. And as of today, they’ve got sizable backing from venture investors to attack the data storage market.

The startup is Qumulo, a Seattle-based company that is announcing today a $24.5 million Series A round of financing led by Highland Capital Partners. Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners also are bankrolling the startup.

Qumulo was founded earlier this year by Peter Godman, Aaron Passey, and Neal Fachan, veterans of Isilon Systems. They are described in today’s news release as “the primary architects of Isilon’s OneFS file system, which revolutionized the way data centers store and manage petabytes of data.”

Isilon, of course, was acquired for $2.25 billion in 2010 by EMC, the Hopkinton, MA-based data storage giant.

We’ve recently seen another interesting move by a key Isilon figure. Former Isilon CEO Sujal Patel left EMC several weeks ago, and quickly resurfaced as a board member of Portland, OR-based Elemental Technologies, a company backed by Seattle-based Voyager Capital.

Qumulo appears ready to build on the Isilon legacy in Seattle. But we’ll have to wait to see just how they plan to do that: The startup doesn’t have a product yet, and wasn’t willing to talk about even the general area it plans to target in the enterprise storage market.

The problems that big companies face in wrangling data are well known. Consumers and business users of all stripes, enabled by powerful mobile devices, are generating wildly growing amounts of digital data—from the photos and videos they record to the “shadow data” about their location and habits, Qumulo CEO Godman says.

“Everything about our lives is becoming digital, and there’s this tremendous consequential explosion of data,” coming alongside relative modest growth in corporate IT budgets. “So IT has to become tremendously more efficient in order to keep up with the avalanche of data that’s coming.”

Along with building its first product, Qumulo plans to use the new investment cash to build its workforce, with plans to hire more than 50 people over the next 18 months, mostly in engineering.

We’ll have to keep an eye on Qumulo to see what all those people end up cranking out. At this stage, chalk it up to a significant bet on another Seattle startup making waves in enterprise IT.

“We have been closely involved with Isilon Systems and Amazon, two hugely influential companies in the storage space, and believe Qumulo will fuel further innovation in the market,” Madrona Managing Director Matt McIlwain says in the news release.

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