Storage-as-a-Service vendor ClearSky Data recently closed a $20 million funding round to fuel its expansion. The company also announced a new partnership with datacenter provider Equinix.
In a sign of confidence in the company’s approach, existing investors General Catalyst, Highland Capital Partners, and Polaris Partners all participated in this round of funding, joined by new investor Pear Tree Partners. Also joining the investors is an unnamed “market-leading and publicly-traded technology provider” according to the company’s blog post about the announcement.
“They’re a strategic investor that unfortunately has to remain unnamed for now,” said CEO and co-founder Ellen Rubin.
ClearSky has been investing in automating its process of commissioning new datacenters to make rapid expansion easier, so now more of the funding can be spent on marketing, sales, and the equipment required, rather than labour to build out a new site. This should make the money go further, and get cash from customers in new areas flowing in faster, helping to fuel growth. It’s a nice example of how automation can effect the top line, not just the bottom line.
It seems that ClearSky hasn’t really changed the scope of its offer to customers since coming out of stealth a couple of years ago. “Customers love the data protection and DR offers,” said Rubin, “It’s just an easy sale.”
This lack of change surprises me a little, but it indicates that ClearSky had a solid idea of who their customers were and what they wanted and built that, rather than building something first to see if the market would respond. You’d think this approach would be obvious, but it’s astounding how often I see product coming before market in my daily consulting.
Customers are using ClearSky as an easy way to consolidate datacenters. “We’re very good at ingest,” said Rubin. “Mid-tier customers just say ‘Take it all, and make my problem go away.’”
Data migrations are tricky at the best of times, so providing a fast way to get data into a service with presence at a desired location removes that part of the migration project from the customer’s list of things to worry about. Having been involved in a few of these projects myself, I can see how easing the migration path would be attractive, particularly in medium sized organizations already stressed by these complex and failure-prone projects.
With sales reportedly double what they were a year ago, and having only been on the market for a couple of years, ClearSky is clearly providing what their customers want to buy. Their chief barrier to growth is physical presence in the locations their customers want to buy them in, and with the Equinix partnership adding to the existing DigitalRealty partnership, a great deal of that issue is resolved.
Rubin has her sights on Europe after focusing on the US for at least the next six months, and Equinix has a strong global presence with the locations and networking required to make ClearSky work for customers.
The current approach is working, so it looks like all ClearSky needs to do now is just more of the same.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.