Igneous CEO hands over reins to storage industry vet

Igneous co-founder Kiran Bhageshpur has relinquished his CEO spot while retaining a seat on the board. His replacement is Dean Darwin, a data storage industry veteran and fellow board member. Meanwhile Christian Smith, VP Products, has left the company for a business development role at AWS.

Igneous has developed a UDMaaS (Unstructured Data Management as a Service) and offers petabyte-scale unstructured data backup, archive and storage system with a public cloud backend. The startup sells DataDiscover and DataProtect services under the UDMaaS umbrella.

Blocks & Files diagram showing Igneous’ UDMaaS concept

Go to market

Kiran Bhageshpur

Bhageshpur has written a blog in which he says: “Over the last few months, the opportunity to step back from my role as the CEO of Igneous presented itself and I took it!” 

He will spend his free time volunteer work for the coming US elections, supporting candidates and voter registration, and also whitewater kayaking. That looks like an almost retirement.

Dean Darwin

Darwin has run business operations at NetApp, Palo Alto Networks and other firms and is a board adviser to several companies. He told us Kiran had grown the company for seven years and thought it now needed a go-to-market CEO: “So we kind of flipped roles.”

“There’s no change in company strategy [but] we want to tell the story a little better than we had in the past.”

Christian Smith.

We asked about Smith’s departure for Amazon. “Christian spent six years at Igneous and it was time for a change. AWS made him a dynamite offer.” 

The Igneous product management bench under Christian is very strong, Darwin added. Also, “What’s good news for Christian is not bad news for Igneous.” He can spread the need for Igneous-type technology inside AWS.

File population

Igneous finds 70 per cent of its business with Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp customers, Darwin told us. These vendors’ systems can’t cope with huge file populations – “We’re constantly cleaning up after failed SLAs with every single vendor deployment.”

Igneous claims Cohesity, Commvault, Rubrik, Veeam and other data protectors run out of gas as file populations head towards and past a 100PB point and trillions of files. At the end of 2019, the company said it had 40-60 customers, mostly large enterprises – not surprisingly, as few smaller companies handle trillions of files.

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