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Actifio claims it is the 'fastest growing enterprise storage firm' – ever

Thin copying, fat juicy revenues

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Actifio, a privately held storage startup founded in 2008, is crowing like a chanticleer that business was booming last year for its funky Copy Data Storage arrays. Probably in the hopes of either raking in more venture funding or setting itself up to go public at some point in the future.

Copy Data Storage is the brain child of Ash Ashutosh, the founder of storage resource management AppIQ (scarfed up by Hewlett-Packard back in the days when it made smaller and sensible acquisitions). The company partially uncloaked in the summer of 2009 and raised $57.5m in three rounds of funding in 2010 and 2011 to fuel its growth.

With Copy Data Storage, there are a few different ideas at play. The first is to consolidate all of the various kinds of snapshots, backups, and copies of files, databases, and systems into a single storage array called the Protection and Availability System, or PAS for short.

The second idea is to take initial snapshots, backups, and copies from production systems and then let PAS do what can be thought of as "thin copying" the next time a snapshot, backup, or copy is made from those applications.

The PAS system keeps all of the metadata and incremental files and allows for storage admins to surf forward and backward in time, seeing how the files change over time and allowing for replication from any point in time. (Think of Apple's Time Machine for Mac OS.)

The Copy Data Storage can be used as primary system storage or as a target for replicated data coming off production systems, either set up in the data center or in a remote recovery facility. (You can get all the finer points from El Reg storage guru Chris Mellor here.)

The idea behind Copy Data Storage seems to be taking off, with Actifio bragging in this blog post that revenues in 2012 were exploding – up 700 per cent over 2011's figures, in fact. This was the tenth consecutive quarter of double digit sequential revenue growth for Actifio, and the fifth consecutive quarter of annual year-on-year growth in excess of 500 per cent.

"Actifio is now the fastest growing enterprise storage firm from inception ever," the company proudly proclaimed. (It is tough for any of us to prove or disprove this, of course.)

Actifio said that it did 62 "new transactions" in the fourth quarter, with the average deal size of $210,000. It is not precisely clear what an old transaction might be, but what is clear is that this works out to a little over $13m in Q4. If what Actifio meant is that this is the revenue from new customers, rather than existing customers buying more capacity, then sales are even larger.

The company bragged further that it now has direct sales operations in 16 different countries, and generates 84 per cent of its revenues from its channel partners. Part of that explosive growth in 2012, in fact, may have been due to the reseller agreement that Actifio inked in with IBM in February 2012. IBM actually runs the PAS code underlying the Copy Data Storage on its own DS3500 Express, V7000, XIV, and SVC storage hardware and software.

The whole point of Copy Data Storage is that it runs in conjunction with your existing servers, switches, and storage arrays. The software comes in a flavor called 100T that is aimed at data centers and compute farms that scales from 15TB to 100TB in managed capacity. This setup is limited to serving up to 1,000 virtual machines on clusters and uses Gigabit or 10 Gigabit Ethernet switching between servers and storage.

The Enterprise flavor of Copy Data Storage is for larger, multi-tenant environments and scales over 100TB with a ceiling currently around 8PB. The company claims – and has a report from Enterprise Strategy Group – that it can eliminate backup windows while at the same time cutting network bandwidth needs by 95 per cent for snapshots, backups, and copies and reducing storage capacity by 29 per cent.

It is a wonder that IBM or Oracle hasn't bought Actifio yet. North Bridge Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, Advanced Technology Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz, who kicked all that venture cash into Actifio, are probably thinking the same thing. ®

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