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Hazelcast, a startup looking to challenge legacy database providers like Oracle and fast-growing startups pushing open-source databases, has landed $11 million in new funding.

The money should help the startup grow into a bigger business as it expands beyond just commercial support for the Hazelcast in-memory data grid.

In announcing the news today, Hazelcast pointed to recent benchmarks showing the eponymous open-source data grid software’s performance advantages over the Apache Cassandra open-source NoSQL database. And those reported advantages could persuade more developers to try the Hazelcast technology.

From there, Hazelcast the company could use the new money to bring on more employees to provide strong support and to push sales of the recently released enterprise version of the data grid, featuring extra security features, replication over wide-area networks, and clients for C# and C++ languages.

“We don’t necessarily spend a lot of energy or effort kind of promoting those features per se,” Miko Matsumura, Hazelcast’s vice president of worldwide marketing, told VentureBeat. “We really just kind of stay abreast of our customers’ needs, and if they talk to us about how usage patterns are changing or have a need for those features, we’re happy to engage them in that conversation.”

Developers often use Hazelcast open-source software as a key-value store to keep information associated with various inputs. And that makes it compete with other key value stores and open-source databases, some of which have startups bringing in venture rounds as of late. Redis Labs, a backer of distributions of the Memcached and Redis key-value stores, announced a $9 million round last year. Basho, a startup behind the Riak open-source key-value store, raised $11 million two years ago.

Meanwhile, startups advocating document-oriented NoSQL databases, including Couchbase and MongoDB, have completed big rounds in the past year. And DataStax, which has an enterprise version of the Cassandra distributed columnar database, just raised $106 million.

Both the open-source Hazelcast project and Hazelcast the company began in 2008. The company could provide commercial support for the data grid. But now the company has diversified with the premium Hazelcast Enterprise offering.

Based in Java, the open-source data grid can store and serve up data using the fast-acting memory inside servers. That could make it a good fit for applications like event processing, risk detection, or payment processing.

“In finance, there’s a ton of applications that are emerging where you want real-time data … and elastically scalable performance,” Matsumura said. “For situations like that, Hazelcast is pretty ideal.”

The open-source software could stand to replace premium products like Oracle Coherence, Pivotal Gemfire, and Software AG Terracotta.

Earlybird Venture Capital led the new funding round. Ali Kutay, Rod Johnson, and Bain Capital Ventures also participated.

To date, Hazelcast has raised $13.5 million, including the $2.5 million round it announced last year.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Hazelcast employs 35 people. A year from now, though, 50 or more people should work there, Matsumura said.

Customers include Apple, AT&T, Atlassian, Cisco, and Ericsson.

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