Data storage startups to watch in 2019

Every year, brave souls launch storage startups, bucking great odds against their chances of making it big.

Pure Storage Inc. successfully transitioned from all-flash startup to public company. Hybrid vendor Tintri did not. Nutanix Inc. pioneered the idea of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and, in the process, it became a well-known name in IT circles. But how many storage administrators even remember HCI startup Nimboxx?

The high probability of failure hasn't deterred veteran storage innovators from returning to the fray. Demand for high-performance storage gear has never been greater, fueled by increased interest in AI and analytics in core data centers and edge environments.

Even companies that don't make it big often place innovative technology into the market that larger vendors will acquire or emulate. That makes these storage startups worth watching regardless of their chances of becoming the next Pure or Nutanix.

For end users, the decision to gamble on a startup doesn't hinge on its technology. The key question is whether a new vendor is able to carve out a sustainable business and survive for the long haul.

Here are some promising newcomers we'll be tracking in 2019. They offer storage products and services that span backup, cloud, converged and flash. Most of these storage startups would fit in any general enterprise, although some are clearly targeting high-end data centers with their eyes on the cloud.


Burlywood Inc. gives you the tools to create your own SSD. The startup's TrueFlash has a programmable flash controller for customizing SSDs tuned for multiple cloud workloads.

Burlywood, based in Longmont, Colo., shoves commodity NAND flash down the stack by imposing an intelligent software layer on top. The design includes a storage emulator in the controller and a method to manage defects and error rate on the media.

For most enterprises, commodity-priced SSDs will suffice. Burlywood aims TrueFlash at large data centers that depend on high-performance flash, including hyperscale cloud providers.

Burlywood writes data sequentially to page stripes and then compares it to data stored in the buffer. If a page of data fails the comparison, the data is rewritten to a different page. A signal is transmitted to the host when at least some rewrites are acknowledged by storage.

Multistream quality of service partitions a TrueFlash SSD to serve varied I/O patterns. Via firmware, Burlywood claims it can reprogram a TrueFlash-built device to quickly take advantage of next-generation flash when it's available.

Along with its flash stack, Burlywood provides a reference design to guide customers in designing an SSD, either in-house or through a contract manufacturer.

Cloud Daddy

Is there such a thing as a hip daddy? Well, when it comes to thorny issues of data protection in AWS, Cloud Daddy Inc. is hip.

Amazon shoulders the burden of providing a secure cloud environment, but it leaves the responsibility of data security to individual customers. That's when Cloud Daddy intervenes.

The Princeton, N.J., company's Secure Backup integrates APIs for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Elastic Block Store, Relational Database Service, Aurora, NoSQL and RedShift. The data is replicated between AWS regions or even multiple accounts.

For security, Cloud Daddy allows users to create and apply firewall rules to associated security groups or create automated firewall rules with built-in templates.

A wizard-based dashboard flashes the estimated cost of backup jobs in real time. The cost estimator would be better with an AI engine to automate data tiering once the cost hits a certain threshold. Cloud Daddy says that feature is in its plans.

Enterprise licenses cost $749 per month for 120 users, 30 AWS accounts and 200 AWS instances. Midsize businesses pay $299 a month for 40 users, 10 AWS accounts and 50 AWS instances. A basic plan costs $129 per month for 20 users, five AWS accounts and 20 AWS instances.

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