Igneous Systems Goes from Stealth to Local Data Services

Spending three years in stealth mode and raising $26.7 million can lead to big expectations. Igneous Systems, the name behind the numbers, has finally announced their first product offering.

“Today, when people talk about the private cloud, it usually means customers are still buying hardware, installing software and managing infrastructure,” said CEO and co-founder Kiran Bhageshpur during a recent interview. “We [Igneous Systems] think of ourselves as private cloud for real, as true cloud for local data. As our customer, you just consume storage resources across an API.”

The product is called Igneous Data Service and it boasts all the benefits of public cloud data storage, but it is meant to operate all behind an organization’s firewall. The Seattle startup customizes hardware that they will maintain remotely through cloud-based management software that then creates storage within a customer’s own data center. The Igneous Data Service is meant to provide object storage for very large unstructured data sets, an increasingly common problem among enterprise companies.

The whole solution is designed so that customers purchase no equipment and do not have to worry about installing or maintaining any type of software on their end. Igneous aims to offer catered, customized service to each client.Igneous reassured that they have more ideas to come, but Data Service is the first offering out of the company since it was founded in October 2013. Initially, the company raised $23.7 million in 2014 in first investments from Madrona Venture Group, New Enterprise Associates, Redpoint Ventures, and Isilon co-founder Sujal Patel. Patel’s contribution is unsurprising since CEO and co-founder Kiran Bhageshpur was the former vice president of engineering in the Isilon Storage Division at EMC.

According to Igneous CEO Bhageshpur and chief marketing officer Steve Pao, organizations have lists of reasons why they may want to keep their data on-premises. For one, the company may value the data being accessible with LAN speeds over limited bandwidth to a public cloud; additionally, the data might be too valuable or confidential to upload to a public cloud. A final reason could be based on how quickly the accumulation of data happens, meaning that constant uploading would be impractical.

In a press release, the Igneous hardware is described as “a standard-sized rectangular box filled with twin columns of 30 vertically positioned 3.5-inch hard disk drives, each enhanced with an Igneous-designed, ARM-based circuit board that monitors the drive’s health and manages its data distribution. The drives are linked by Ethernet, I/O constraints are, thus, minimized.”

Each box has a total usable capacity of 212 TB; boxes can then be added to increase storage capacity in those increments. As the data is imported, it gets inspected and indexed before being stored in an unstructured fashion as objects. With the systems, customers can access their data through Amazon Web Services’ S3 API, as previously mentioned, an industry standard according to the Gartner Group.

Typically, getting access to even unstructured data, stored in a more conventional, network-attached filesystem requires only an operating-system call. The problem is that such filesystems have severely limited scaling abilities. According to some in the technology world, utilizing APIs to access unstructured data in object storage, however, has slowed the growth of such storage options.

Igneous does not see dependence on an API for data access as an impediment, though, because individual application’s data-access method can be converted by incorporating S3-compliant toolkits, several of which are available. Customers additionally have the option of using a commercially available gateway for translation. Finally, for simply browsing Igneous-stored data, it is possible to employ one of several available S3-compliant data viewers.

Bhageshpur noted that Igneous Systems is aiming “to solve customer [requirements] in the world of IT-as-a-service going forward that just aren’t met by traditional infrastructure vendors.”

Igneous will cost customers about $40,000 a year for the basic 212-TB box and service, according to a statement from Bhageshpur. He continued that it equates to 1.5 cents per gigabyte per month, compared to the public cloud’s average 3 cents. In the end, it adds up to under $200 per TB per year, which compares nicely to the private ownership capital-expense model of $1,000 per TB per year.

The company already has 11 patents under its belt, according to another press release.

The market for object storage is still quite tiny and this year is the first year that Garner will release one of its highly regarded Magic Quadrant reports on the segment. Igneous won’t be in it as it currently lacks the threshold revenue requirement.

Key Takeaways:

– Igneous Systems has released Igneous Data Service. It provides object storage for very large unstructured data sets for companies. It is a public cloud working behind company’s firewalls.
– Igneous Systems utilizes Amazon Web Services’ S3 API for its services. Individual application’s data-access method can be converted by incorporating S3-compliant toolkits
– Igneous will cost customers about $40,000 a year for the basic 212-TB box and service, according to a statement from the company. He continued that it equates to 1.5 cents per gigabyte per month, compared to the public cloud’s average 3 cents.

Lindsey Cobb

Lindsey Cobb, a Georgia native and former history major, is a technology researcher who is fascinated by past and future of technology. When she is not engrossed in the prophecy of science fiction stories, Lindsey is likely to be planning her next adventurous trip or petting every dog she meets. Contact Lindsey at [email protected]