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SolidFire is a rapidly growing startup selling data center storage infrastructure containing fast flash to store and serve up data. The company just brought on $82 million in new capital, it said today.

The new funds will allow SolidFire to spend much more on sales and marketing as it competes with storage giants like EMC and other growing all-flash storage companies like Pure Storage.

Not that SolidFire has been stagnant. In the year since it took on a $31 million funding round with Samsung Ventures participating, SolidFire has expanded its reach from service providers like CloudSigma and Internap to enterprises like eBay and Teradata.

Surely other flash-storage vendors have been adding customers in the meantime, as acquisitions of flash providers like Fusion-io, Texas Memory, Virident, and Whiptail have attracted more attention to the market. Flash-based hardware does, then, appear to hold sway among investors and acquisition scouts. But for Dave Wright, SolidFire’s founder and chief executive, the magic lies beyond the hardware itself.

“The bottom line is flash isn’t a differentiator at this point,” Wright told VentureBeat in an interview. “I really don’t think that’s going to be a suitable advantage in the market.”

At his company, at least, the ability to easily start storing larger and larger quantities of data — from 35 TB to 3.5 PB — can make a difference. So can the ability to guarantee the storage performance of specific applications, Wright said.

And it helps that SolidFire can optimize its hardware to take advantage of the latest innovations in flash as a result of Samsung Ventures’ investment in the company last year.

Plus, SolidFire has done work to let its customers use the OpenStack open-source software to control its gear, not just the VMware data center management software, which hybrid-storage vendor Tintri has focused on initially.

Dave Wright, chief executive and founder of SolidFire, speaks at the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta in May.

Above: Dave Wright, chief executive and founder of SolidFire, speaks at the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta in May.

Image Credit: Screen shot

In bringing on such a big wad of money, Wright must now face questions of what his company will look like in the future. An initial public offering could well take place, he said.

“The thing the funding round really gives us is the ability to go to the markets whenever we’re ready,” Wright said. “We’re not really focused on the timeline with it.”

SolidFire started in 2009 and is based in Boulder, Colo. It launched into general availability in late 2012. To date it has raised $150 million.

Greenspring Associates and “a major sovereign wealth fund” led the new round in SolidFire, the startup said in a statement. New Enterprise Associates, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures, and Valhalla Partners also participated.

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