Flash Caching Software Firm Proximal Data Scores $2M in Funding

The server-side caching market is gathering steam in the wake of the data storage industry’s newfound fascination with PCIe flash add-on cards. And for one San Diego-based startup, it could be the ticket to bigger market opportunities.

Last year, Proximal Data launched its AutoCache product. As Drew Robb described in his flash storage watch list, the software plugs into virtual management platforms, intelligently speeding up virtual machine (VM) workloads by harnessing the inherent performance-boosting benefits of PCIe flash add-on cards and solid-state drives (SSD).

“The product plugs into VMware’s ESXi hypervisor, where it inspects all blocks from all VMs and places hot I/O into a local PCIe flash card or SSD. It requires no agents for guest OSs and supports vMotion, vSphere and vCenter. Note, however, that AutoCache is not intended for use in bare metal servers,” wrote Robb.

In action, AutoCache can increase VM density by up to three times without additional IT overhead. It’s an approach that has helped Proximal Data earn an additional $2 million in funding, the company announced today.

The Series B round of financing was led by Divergent Ventures and backed by Avalon Ventures, a previous investor. To date, the startup has raised $5 million.

Current plans call for an expansion of the company’s sales distribution network and a push into international markets. The infusion of capital will also help fund the further development of its AutoCache software.

For Avalon Ventures’ managing director Steve Tomlin, investing in Proximal Data is a sure bet.

“Proximal Data’s technology is both groundbreaking and proven, given its significant market traction where customers have enjoyed performance gains with no change to their operational procedures or investments. We are confident that Proximal Data will continue to be the thought leader in the virtualized server-side caching market moving forward,” he said in prepared remarks.

With an intense focus on virtualized environments, Proximal Data stands to gain from the growing popularity of VM-enabled, cloud-enabled infrastructures. That is, if it doesn’t get snapped up first.

In recent years, PCIe flash card makers and SSD vendors have been acquiring caching software specialists at a steady clip. Violin Memory acquired Gear6, a provider of Memcached products and NFS caching software, in 2010.

Flash storage specialist SanDisk acquired FlashSoft, whose software speeds up Linux and Windows Server. In June, the company bought up Schooner Information Technology, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of Membrain, software that improves the performance of database-driven applications.

Late last year, flash chip and SSD heavyweight Samsung set its sights on the enterprise storage market by buying NVELO. The privately-held storage software firm’s DataPlex technology improves the performance of PC and servers outfitted with SSDs or PCIe flash cards.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to Datamation, eWEEK, and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro.

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