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Cash-bloated startup takes on data protection giants

What the heck is going on at Actifio?

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Ash Ashutosh's Actifio startup has been flooded with cash by VCs - $59.5m since its founding in 2008 - to create a virtualised data protection and availability device. Is it on fire?

Actifio's PAS (Protection and Availability System) is a server running a distributed object filesystem, described as a Virtual Data Pipeline (VDP). PAS takes copies of changed blocks on a protected server and stores them on disk, including metadata with the data, using deduplication. These can be used to recreate data on demand to virtual points in time; Actifio says there is effectively a zero backup window.

The changed and deduced blocks can be sent across a network to a remote PAS system in a business continuity site and used for incremental restores. In both the source and remote sites users can instantly mount recovered data. Actifio says this means a zero restore window.

VDP has virtualised, Actifio says, "the core primitives of data management: copy, store, move and restore, and enables instant creation of virtual copies of point-in-time data from the collection of unique blocks of data".

Actifio's single protection silo and virtual copies

Actifio's single protection and availability virtualised silo.

It's great advantage is that multiple data silos for backup software, disaster recovery, business continuity and test and development tools, can be replaced by single PAS silos. These, deployed in each site or domain where data has to be managed, can also be used for search, compliance and analytics tools. The product is said to deliver application-centric and service-level agreement-driven data protection and availability.

Actifio says PAS "is a single, radically simple solution to efficiently manage all copies of production data for virtual, physical or cloud IT infrastructure for on-premise, hosted, hybrid or SaaS deployments of applications". Users can: "Protect and recover information instantly, with no more than 3-clicks at any location, for any application for any IT environment."

The PAS system replaces multiple other copies of data and reduces data protection and availability costs down to a tenth of what they were, according to Actifio's claims.

It all sounds almost too good to be true. Nevertheless early results have been so promising that Actifio's funding history shows a near VC frenzy to invest:

  • Mid-2009 - $4m of desired A-round of $8m;
  • First half of 2010 - remaining $4m
  • Second half of 2010 - $16m B-round
  • Dec 2011 - $33.5m C-round.

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