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WekaIO Raises $31.7 Million in Series C Funding

Total capital raised: $66.7 million

WekaIO, Inc. closed $31.7 million in a series C funding round fueled by existing investors and new strategic investors from the storage industry, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mellanox Technologies, NVIDIA, Seagate, and Western Digital Capital, the strategic investment fund of Western Digital Corp., alongside Qualcomm which invested previously.

The new funding brings the company’s total capital raised to $66.7 million.

WekaIO plans to use the investment primarily to support the continued acceleration of its market trajectory and international business expansion through increased investments in engineering, sales, and marketing, giving WekaIO Matrix market advantage in addressing data intensive applications at scale in key verticals including AI, ML, life sciences, finance and engineering.

Matrix, a fast file system and company’s’s flagship product, is used by customers with I/O intensive workloads commonly found in AI, ML, high velocity analytics, and HPC. The firm delivers its patented software on pre-engineered solutions with HPE, Supermicro, and Western Digital or it can be installed on any industry-standard Intel x86-based server or used on the AWS Cloud to deliver enterprise grade HPC at cloud-scale economics.

The company’s capacity-based pricing model allows customers to start small and scale as their needs grow.

Matrix integrates object storage for economics at scale and supports features snapshots, cloud backup and disaster recovery, alongside multiprotocol support including NFS and SMB. The NVMe-optimized and POSIX-compliant file system delivers the performance and low latency, as measured by independent SPEC SFS 2014 benchmark testing and VI4IO’s 10 Node Challenge list.

“This latest round of financing sets the stage for substantial growth and allows us to continue our mission to deliver an enterprise grade HPC storage solution at cloud scale economics,” says Liran Zvibel, CEO and co-founder of WekaIO. “Modern workloads need a modern file system and legacy solutions just can’t keep pace. In under two years since our launch from stealth, we’ve been lauded with industry awards and accolades, been validated in production environments with leading enterprise organizations, and broken records on industry leading benchmark tests beating out some of the world’s largest supercomputers. This additional capital will allow us to increase our presence worldwide and continue to innovate in order to exceed the evolving needs of our customers.”

“We are seeing an explosion of artificial intelligence, machine and deep learning along with high-performance computing in the enterprise market,” said Paul Glaser, head of Pathfinder, HPE. “By combining HPE’s industry-leading server architecture with WekaIO’s performance-leading software in an integrated, tested and validated package, we can deliver best of breed solutions to our customers. This is a great example of HPE’s Pathfinder program that seeks to partner with emerging companies that are strategically aligned with HPE to drive innovative customer solutions and benefits.”

“We have been demonstrating performance improvements for mutual customers with WekaIO since they launched from stealth in 2017. The combination of Matrix software and Mellanox Ethernet and IB adapters delivers a high-performance storage solution that can address a broad range of use cases in AI, ML, HPC and high velocity analytics,” commented Nimrod Gindi, SVP of M&A and head of investments, Mellanox. “We are enthusiastic to support WekaIO in this round of funding to encourage the development of emerging technologies, like Matrix.”

“As the world leader in accelerated computing, NVIDIA is at the forefront of AI innovation,” added Jeff Herbst, VP of business development, NVIDIA. “WekaIO has pioneered an impressive modern parallel file system that delivers important capabilities to accelerate AI and workloads at scale – with high throughput, high bandwidth and low latency data access to GPU-based servers.”

“With the increase of data-hungry and low latency AI applications in the enterprise, we anticipate that the combination of WekaIO’s cutting-edge NVMe solutions tiered to S3 data pools on Seagate’s multi actuator based storage products will provide unparalleled scale, performance and TCO. We are excited to partner with WekaIO, and look forward to a close relationship,” said Ravi Naik, SVP of corporate strategy and CIO, Seagate. “Seagate’s mission is to maximize data’s potential, so we are excited to support the development of NVMe-native file systems like WekaIO Matrix that were built from the ground up to maximize the efficiencies of flash to support these modern workloads.”

WekaIO was awarded Gartner Cool Vendor, a spot in Silicon Review’s 10 Fastest Growing Storage Companies list, the Artificial Intelligence Excellence Award and the AIConics Award. These achievements highlight the company’s continued momentum to deliver HPC-class storage with enterprise-level features and services, all in one solution, that provides IT with a platform to support data-intensive applications.

Our Comments

Visiting WekaIO in Tel-Aviv in November 2016, we were impressed by its vision and track records of the team.

That team has developed a modern file storage solution named MatrixFS to take advantage of flash and NVMe, the coming tsunami in storage. Many other file systems got their root before that wave trying to solve issues hard drives introduced.

Founded in January 2014, WekaIO has raised $66.7 million according to the company and $73.7 million according to Crunchbase. This last round - Series C of $31.7 million - is supported by Qualcomm, NVidia, WDC, Seagate, Mellanox and HPE. Interesting to see that several of these companies play in high-demanding applications space and some others are really looking for such solution.

MatrixFS is fast and demonstrates that the company maximizes their SPEC SFS impressive results. Benchmarks are interesting as we can finally split them in two categories: benchmarks to beat records and people realize that almost nobody can afford the configuration and benchmarks on real customers' configurations and hardware and these are key for market adoption.

But as many people seem to make confusion in file storage, let me clarify a few terms first especially between distributed file system seen by clients and internal file system, not seen by clients, that could be distributed as well.

Dell EMC Isilon or Qumulo have developed an internal distributed file system exposed via industry standard file sharing protocols like NFS and SMB. WekaIO exposes the distributed file system directly to client machines leveraging the number of servers to boost data transfer, same philosophy as Lustre or IBM Spectrum Scale. Then these clients can potentially exposed the file system via NFS or SMB under certain constraints.

The second notion to demystify is the parallel file system and NAS as I read yesterday some articles that clearly put some NAS offering in the parallel category. Let me be direct, the only possibility for NFS to be parallel is to use the pNFS (parallel NFS) extension. WekaIO is a parallel file system and, as said above, it can be exposed as NAS as well, Dell EMC Isilon or Qumulo are NAS, very good ones but NAS and not parallel at all.

In that case, the entire file is exposed by a cluster node via NAS protocol even if in the background file is chunked across servers. So you get the idea: to be qualify of parallel file system, the client must consider multiple data servers and split the file at its level across these data servers. Pay attention that this model exists also without any file splitting across servers, in that case the entire file is stored by one data server, here it's distributed but not parallel. I wrote a post about Panasas and define a few terms: asymmetric, distributed and parallel. Again WekaIO, pNFS, Lustre and Spectrum Scale are examples of parallel distributed file system (some are even asymmetric as well), Isilon, Pure Storage with FlashBlade, NetApp with FAS and Qumulo, examples of NAS.

The WekaIO story is very compelling and we wonder the direction and future of the company. As we think the company won't do an IPO, we anticipate some landings. HPE with a fuzzy storage strategy with lots of partnerships and investments and bad integration when they acquire a company could be an exit for sure. Ibrix and Polyserve, acquired respectively in 2009 and 2007 by HP (at that time), were good stories even better outside than inside the company. DDN doesn't need it with GridScaler (based on IBM Spectrum Scale) and ExaScaler (Lustre), and also started a Lustre entity following the acquisition of Intel's Lustre business last year, and more recently they announced their intent to acquire Nexenta. IBM won't be interested as well and we're not convinced by Oracle. We may see a surprise and nothing can happen below $500 million so candidates are limited.

Read also:
WekaIO Quadruples Business in 2018
In USA and EMEA
January 18, 2019 | Press Release
Company Profile: WekaIO
Software-defined storage is NVMe-native, shared file system that runs on commodity servers or AWS Cloud.
by Jean Jacques Maleval | August 20, 2018 | News

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