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Backup upstart Actifio flicks the safety off in storage standoff

Another $50m bullet in the chamber. Who's going to buy it before it fires?

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Funding for data-battling upstart Actifio is mushrooming: it's just scooped another $50m from investors eager to take part in what looks likely to be a lucrative stock-market debut in a year or two.

The company's technology, embodied in its PAS (Production and Availability System) appliance, takes a snapshot of your production systems' data and then presents that single copy to non-production gear, effectively reducing the amount of information duplicated across parallel systems.

Machines used for backup, test and development, business continuity, disaster recovery (DR), archiving, analytics and more access virtual copies of the production snapshot, rather than each holding individual physical copies. Changes to the live production data are absorbed into the PAS-maintained copy.

The D-round of investment was led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, ATV, Greylock Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

Here is a snapshot of Actifio's funding history:

  • Founded in 2008
  • Mid-2009: $4m of desired A-round of $8m
  • First half of 2010: remaining $4m
  • Second half of 2010: $16m B-round
  • December 2011: $33.5m C-round
  • March 2013: $50m D-round

Total funding is now $107.5m and Actifio is valued on a funding basis at $500m. It claims it is "the fastest growing enterprise storage company from inception ever".

Investors are excited by Actifio's boast of 700 per cent revenue growth from 2011 to 2012, and the lack of any effective competition whatsoever; the startup has managed to pour its tech into a copy data storage market apparently valued at $44bn. Actifio's technology threatens to slash and burn the existing backup, archive, DR and business continuity vendors' business.

Actifio says it "creates a single, perfect copy of production data and maintains changes to that master copy in a way that gives users a simple application running in a single window to recover anything, from any time, instantly".

Laura Dubois, IDC Storage Research's veep, said: “We estimate the magnitude of the copy data problem to be $44bn in infrastructure hardware and software spending and growing. That is a staggering number and an area primed for disruptive innovation.”

Actifio will use the cash to disrupt like crazy before an initial public offering, which must be on the cards; this rate of growth and the funding pattern suggests it strongly.

So far the company hasn't put a foot wrong. If it drastically reduces the amount of data capacity needed by its customers, then storage array sales will fall. An array supplier may just wake up at the wheel and buy Actifio to ship its PAS kit with a storage vault. Whatever the price demanded for the upstart, it will be a lot cheaper than all the business one could lose in the future. ®

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