Cirtas raises $10M and soars into cloud storage

Cirtas Systems, a cloud storage hardware company, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing that it has raised a $10 million first round of funding.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company is announcing its Bluejet Cloud Storage Controller, a piece of storage equipment that sits in cloud-based data centers. Cirtas deploys Bluejet controllers in a customer’s data center.  Bluejet functions just like an on-site storage array, and our technology is seamlessly connecting to and accelerating the performance of off-site cloud storage services, with fast response to user queries, said Dan Decasper, chief executive.

The startup is attacking a common problem for enterprises. Storage systems are getting so complex that they require the architectural expertise of highly specialized people to solve. The amount of data in corporations is exploding so fast that it’s hard to keep up with storage growth needs. By shifting it to the cloud, or Web-based data centers that can be outside of a company’s physical premises, companies can offload the task to others and reduce costs.

The product is aimed at medium and large enterprises and is available now. By tapping the cloud, the company hopes to solve complex security, performance and compatibility issues that stop companies from using cloud storage. One of the big benefits is that enterprises will be able to move their storage from one cloud service firm to another to get better pricing.

Cirtas said it has completed beta tests at more than a dozen enterprise customers across diverse markets. The company ties together techniques for optimizing networks to work with its virtualized storage arrays so that it can deliver what it calls the world’s first cloud-enabled storage system. The company’s first purchase order has come from beta user Robert Half International.

Cirtas said it can securely encrypt all data in transit to and from the cloud, making sure that only authorized users have access to data. If there is a security breach, the Bluejet technology can prevent data from being read or used, as administrators can control who has access. It can also anticipate storage costs and how they fluctuate. And it can manage data for speedy performance.

Cirtas raised money from New Enterprise Associates; Lightspeed Venture Partners; and Amazon.com, itself a major player in cloud computing through its Amazon Web Services offering. The company plans to use the money to expand its infrastructure and accelerate the adoption of its technology.

Amazon is one of the big advocates of cloud computing, which can give businesses more options and better control over how they purchase data storage. Cirtas’s approach to the cloud is tightly aligned with Amazon’s, said Jeff Blackburn, senior vice president of corporate development at Amazon. He said Amazon was most impressed with the ability of Cirtas to migrate large quantities of data into the cloud in a fast, secure, and cost-effective manner.

Beyond Amazon, Cirtas has also secured a strategic alliance with Iron Mountain, which offers archive services. The Cirtas Bluejet product costs $69,995 per appliance. It is available from a variety of industry resellers. The company said it is making free evaluation systems available to customers.

The company was founded in 2008 by Decasper and Allen Samuels. Its team includes veterans of Citrix, DataDomain, NetApp and Riverbed. Cirtas has 30 employees. Rivals include storage vendors such as EMC and NetApp, Twinstrata, Nasuni, StorSimple and Panzura.

[Pictured at top: Decasper (left) and Josh Goldstein, marketing chief]

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