Take one of VMware’s most powerful executives, Satyam Vaghani, and put him together with his former grad-school buddy, Poojan Kumar, the engineer that created Oracle’s super important product, Exadata.
The result is PernixData, a Valley startup that’s turning the storage industry on its head.
Enterprise storage is a hot market these days. In 2013, venture capitalists poured $US1.2 billion into startups that challenge market leaders like EMC and NetApp, ComputerWeekly reports.
That’s because companies are storing more data than ever before and traditional enterprise storage systems are extremely expensive, with price tags that can run $US50,000 to $US2 million, Vaghani tells Business Insider.
New technologies based on flash memory, the kind of storage found in smartphones and thumb drives, are driving down costs. But most startups are building systems that replace existing storage products.
PernixData created software that combines with flash storage to instantly improve the storage company a already owns. Instead of buying more, the storage they have gets faster, better.
Vaghani cut his teeth at VMware, joining in 2002 as employee No. 100-ish, his first job out of grad school. Those were the days when VMware was still run by co-founder Diane Greene, who he describes as “like an Audi, quiet sophistication” and so humble, she flew economy on business trips.
“She was probably the best CEO an engineer could have. She loved her engineers. She expected engineers to just do magic, in return they loved her back,” he says.
She gave Vaghani the nod to work on an experimental storage project, which became the file system, VMS, one of the biggest in use today.
That led to other storage projects and his role as VMware storage CTO. Storage giant EMC grew so nervous by these projects, it acquired a controlling interest in 2003 for about $US635 million.
After 10 years at VMware, Vaghani says leaving the company was hard. It was “a big risk for my career. I was a leader in storage, and I was giving that up. Did I make the right decision? We’ll see,” he told Business Insider.
But the signs are looking good for PernixData so far.
One year after coming out of stealth, PernixData has some huge customers, a partnership with VMware and $US27 million in funding from venture investors. It’s backed by Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed, and big storage angel investor Mark Leslie, founder of Veritas Software, (bought by Symantec in 2004 for about $US$13.5 billion).