SimpliVity Aims to Cut Clutter, Rebuild IT Infrastructure

8/20/12Follow @xconomy

Nearly two years ago, an SEC filing revealed that a stealthy IT company called SimpliVT had raised $9.2 million in funding.

Today that company, with the slightly changed name of SimpliVity, is officially announcing it has launched. And it has just one, oh, minor goal in mind: to “simplify IT infrastructure,” says CEO Doron Kempel, who founded the company shortly after selling his former company Diligent Technologies to IBM in 2008.

Westborough, MA-based SimpliVity’s basic premise is that many large enterprises are built around 1990s-era back-office technology that was just not built with today’s economy in mind. Developments in mobility, virtualization, and public cloud technologies have forced IT administrators to layer on different pieces of hardware and software, such as WAN optimization, backup and deduplication appliances, SSD arrays, storage caching appliances, and more. The total cost of these components across the hardware and services can run about $400,000, Kempel says.

“We think this is just a bunch of clutter, and our assumption was that it cannot continue,” says Kempel. “We believe this is expensive, inflexible, complex, and completely out of the reach of mid-market customers.”

Instead, SimpliVity wraps the functionality of all those myriad devices into its OmniCube processing and storage device. Kempel says the company designed the device from the ground up with mobility and virtualization in mind, in an effort to eliminate the many, additional pieces of hardware that were added to IT foundations as the landscape evolved. OmniCube begins by deduping (eliminate duplicate copies of files) and compressing data “once and forever,” Kempel says. Because the coarse, clunkier data is stripped down, the system can handle storage needs and Web optimization, with two OmniCubes providing all the functionality that traditional IT stacks do, he says.

“It’s like changing the foundations of a large building,” Kempel says.

The technology was designed with a big distributed-computing focus, by allowing virtual machines to connect to and run the OmniCube systems from “wherever they are in the world,” and connecting the OmniCube with data stored in a public cloud, like Amazon’s, Kempel says. IT managers can virtually move all the data seamlessly, by shutting off a system in one location and firing it back up in another. And smaller customers can combine several OmniCube systems to function as a data center, Kempel adds.

He explains that bigger legacy IT players been talking about the convergence of IT, but they’ve mainly placed all the existing clunky components in a rack and renamed it. “There’s a gap between the marketing and technology—any real transformation requires new underlying technology.”

Other newer competitors in the IT convergence and storage space include Nutanix, FlexPod, and Nimble, but Kempel says SimpliVity bundles features that the others can’t, such as public cloud integration, WAN optimization, globally unified management, and the ability to scale out.

The company is now up to 60 employees, some 50 of whom are engineers. The startup has raised a total of $18 million from Charles River Ventures, Accel Partners, and Kempel himself. It’s been beta testing with mid market customers—like an IT services provider—but even has a couple of multi-billion companies on board, including a major sports network. Kempel says the system could also work with colleges, or any entity that has about 20 or more IT staffers and works largely with resellers. SimpliVity plans to sell its technology through the reseller channel as well.

Kempel sees big things coming for the virtualization and simplification of IT. “In 10 years, it will become a multi-billion dollar category. Hopefully SimpliVity will be leading it,” he says.

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