DataGravity Rollout Shows Security Seeping Into New Layers of Tech

One of New England’s most heavily funded tech startups is positioning itself as a major piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Among other things, it is trying to help companies and organizations protect their data from within their storage system.

DataGravity, which is based in Nashua, NH, announced the second version of its data-storage product today. The company says the rollout includes a major software update and adds capabilities to “secure data at the point of storage.”

That’s on top of its existing storage architecture, which tries to give mid-tier customers a better way to extract insights from corporate data—by enabling them to see into the storage system and track things like who accessed a particular file, when, and for how long.

The company has raised $92 million to date and has about 130 employees, making it one of the biggest technology bets in the region (among privately held companies). Its new product rollout reflects what a lot of tech vendors are hearing from their customers—that they need better ways of securing sensitive data, such as financial records and intellectual property.

“Two or three years ago, this wasn’t on their radar,” says Paula Long, DataGravity’s CEO and co-founder. But now, front-page news includes things like identify theft, data kidnapping and extortion, and people leaving organizations and trying to take data with them. Whether it’s to stay out of the news and/or comply with various governance rules, companies (everyone from automakers to hospitals) are looking for more protection.

In parallel, there has been rising interest and investment in data storage and other types of IT infrastructure. So look for security to be an added focus of new products coming out across the tech ecosystem. (Even outside of infrastructure—see Recorded Future over the past year or two.) Unfortunately, the increasing use of security as marketing spin also makes it hard to figure out what some companies are really providing.

The word “security” hasn’t appeared in my previous stories about DataGravity. But Long says it has been one of the pillars of her company all along, in addition to the search and discovery, backup, and visualization capabilities of the system.

“Security isn’t just one piece of the infrastructure,” Long says. “It’s kind of like an onion. You keep peeling back the layers. The ecosystem has to become aggressive with every layer of protection.” To that end, she says, her company will look to “integrate with other security vendors” and “drive collaboration.”

So far, DataGravity has landed customers such as universities, regional banks, state and local governments, and small law firms—typically, organizations with 50 to 5,000 employees.

A key partner in this has been VMware and its vRealize initiative; DataGravity’s product, working with VMware, can give insights into the health and status of virtual machines. “The vast majority of our customers are also VMware customers,” says Jeff Boehm, DataGravity’s vice president of marketing. (It will be interesting to watch that relationship play out, especially given ongoing rumors of a merger between VMware and its majority owner, storage giant EMC.)

DataGravity’s product seems complementary to other data-related offerings from startups like Actifio in data management, Tamr in data preparation, and Infinidat in storage arrays. On the security front, companies such as Bit9, Rapid7, and Palo Alto Networks sell software designed to protect networks and devices and respond to cyber attacks. While that sector is seeing plenty of consolidation and exits, DataGravity isn’t trying to replace any of those offerings.

The company shipped its first storage product last fall, so it’s still too early to give any meaningful revenue numbers—but we’ll keep a close eye on its progress. “I could say we have a million percent growth,” Long jokes. “Ask us in about a year.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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