SoftIron, the Ceph storage startup, raises $34m

SoftIron, the UK developer of Ceph storage hardware and software, has raised $34m in venture capital.

Some of the cash will be used to grow sales, product marketing, and support in North America, Europe and APAC. The company will spend the rest on developing its portfolio of data centre appliances based on open source software.

Phil Straw, SoftIron CEO, said today in a announcement quote: “We had nothing to lose when we started out, so we did the unthinkable and built our appliances from scratch to address what we saw as the new normal: a flexible, adaptable, open-source based, software-defined data centre. I’m proud to say we are now well on our way to being a full spectrum computer company.”

He added: “We are no longer just building a storage appliance; we are offering a coherent end-to-end solution that I believe will revolutionise the enterprise data centre.”

Harry Richardson, chief scientist at SoftIron, said the company has “spent the last few years flying under the radar, honing our vision and working hard to deliver it through genuine, cutting-edge technological wins. … We’ve got some truly great things in store for organisations looking to leverage open source and transition their mission-critical computing away from proprietary vendor lock-in.”

SoftIron technology

Ceph is open source storage software that supports block, file and object access protocols in one package.

SoftIron develops ARM CPU-powered HyperDrive appliances that operate as scale-out storage nodes behind an HD storage router front-end box which processes the Ceph storage requests. The company also supplies the Accepherator FPGA-based erasure coding speed-up card.

Softiron’s Accepherator

SoftIron products include HyperSwitch, a top-of-rack switch that uses Microsoft’s open-source SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) switch software. It also sells HyperCast, a task-specific 4K transcoding system for multi-screen, multi-format delivery.

SoftIron’s funding announcement specifically mentions task-specific appliances, so we can expect more appliances like HyperCast.

Background

SoftIron was founded in 2012 by California-based Phil Straw, Mark Chen and London based exec chairman Norman Fraser.

SoftIron is a late starter and apparent frugal spender amongst startups. We do not know its initial funding source but company took in a $7m A-round in 2017, and then nothing more until today’s $34m B-round announcement. LinkedIn lists 39 employees.

SoftIron builds its hardware systems in-house in Newark, California.

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