ClearSky Captures $27M as Enterprise Tech Investments Soar

Here’s the tech infrastructure landscape in one deal. It’s got everything: a hot startup, venture firms and a big company clamoring to invest, and a technical approach that combines data storage and networking.

Boston-based ClearSky Data has raised $27 million in Series B funding, led by Polaris Partners. The round includes a strategic investment from Akamai, as well as participation from previous investors General Catalyst and Highland Capital Partners. All of these parties are Boston-based, so the deal has a strong local flavor—and, if it pans out, it could help launch the next big New England growth company.

ClearSky’s total venture haul is $39 million to date. The startup is building what it calls a global storage network to help big companies manage their primary data-storage needs. It’s trying to create an end-to-end product that will make storage more efficient, agile, and on-demand. If it succeeds, it will also be a major thorn in the side of entrenched storage vendors like EMC, Dell, NetApp, and Hitachi.

In the wake of Dell’s mega-acquisition of EMC, the overall sense in the business community is that enterprise tech has reached an inflection point. And it’s less about the Dell-EMC integration than it is about the other companies and startups emerging in IT infrastructure. The list of other relevant New England companies that have raised large rounds in the past year includes DataGravity, Infinidat, Plexxi, SevOne, and VMTurbo. (The CEOs of many of these companies, including ClearSky, will speak at Xconomy’s Enterprise Tech Strikes Back conference on Dec. 2.)

Not surprisingly, ClearSky’s investors sound pretty pumped. “We’ve entered the next generation of the enterprise and ClearSky has a great opportunity to build the next major infrastructure company,” says Polaris managing director Dave Barrett, in a statement.

Akamai Labs’ vice president and CTO, Andy Champagne, calls ClearSky’s storage network “the way for enterprises to move their data to the cloud—with the security, performance, and availability they need to succeed.” He’s referring to the fact that, despite all the hoopla about big companies migrating to cloud-based services, they are still struggling to do so because of basic challenges that ClearSky is trying to address.

ClearSky’s co-founder and CEO, Ellen Rubin, told me in August that her role model for the startup would be Akamai. “They wrote the book on this,” she said, of creating a successful IT infrastructure company. Turns out that was a hint of Akamai’s direct involvement in creating a new emerging company, as well.

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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