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Customer rolls dice, invests in SimpliVity OmniCubes

Waypoint Capital's CIO consolidated storage and servers with 11 SimpliVity OmniCubes, and is now investing in SimpliVity's funding round.

Hyper-converged startup SimpliVity closed a $175 million funding round today, led by a happy customer.

Geneva-based Waypoint Capital bought 11 SimpliVity OmniCubes in late 2013 to consolidate its storage across four sites. Waypoint CIO and CTO Frederic Wohlwend said he was so impressed that he recommended that Waypoint's board invest in the storage vendor. Although Waypoint traditionally invests in life sciences and asset management rather than technology companies, the board decided to pour $150 million into SimpliVity.

Hyper-converged systems integrate compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources in one device. Before Waypoint bought SimpliVity, its storage and data protection consisted of 16 HP servers connected to HP EVA and MSA arrays, EMC Data Domain DD600 backup deduplication appliances at multiple sites and Symantec NetBackup software. Waypoint had more than 200 VMware virtual machines across four sites to run its business-critical applications.

Wohlwend said he replaced all that hardware with 2U OmniCube CN-3000 and CN-2000 nodes in Waypoint's Geneva data center and remote offices in London; Boston; and Jersey, France. The sites run active workloads and back up to another remote data center for disaster recovery. Wohlwend said two IT employees manage the SimpliVity OmniCubes. Waypoint has about 40 TB of active storage on the OmniCubes now but he expects that to grow to at least 400 TB over time.

Some of the old storage has been repurposed for test/dev while the OmniCubes store data for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint; file and intranet servers; and Citrix XenApp for VDI.

Wohlwend said Waypoint reduced its number of servers by 35% in those four sites, while increasing storage capacity 12 times and compute power four times. He added that SimpliVity's replication reduces recovery times of protected data.

"Hyper-convergence puts all of these functionalities in a box," he said. "When I joined Waypoint we were ready for a technology refresh, but I wanted to make sure the technology I invested in would last into the next decade."

He said Waypoint engineers also evaluated SimpliVity hyper-converged rival Nutanix, and determined SimpliVity was easier to install and made it easier to maintain and migrate data . "Over the weekend we moved our entire landscape to SimpliVity," Wohlwend said.

Wohlwend said investing in a technology company is a departure for Waypoint. "We are not into risk-taking," he said. "Technology was always seen as something risky. I convinced the board there is no risk here with SimpliVity. We went in big."

Previous SimpliVity investors Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures, DFJ Growth, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Meritech Capital Partners also contributed to the funding round. SimpliVity now has $276 million in total funding. CEO Doron Kempel said SimpliVity's valuation is worth more than $1 billion. Nutanix said it had a valuation of more than $2 billion when it closed a $140 million funding round last August.

Kempel said SimpliVity has shipped over 1,500 OmniCubes in two years since the systems became generally available. He said the funding will help build out a sales team to try to meet demand in the hot hyper-converged market. He plans to double the sales and engineering teams in the 440-person company by the end of the year. "We need to grow as fast as we can," he said.

Kempel said SimpliVity is also adding features to OmniCubes, and its developers are busy adding support for hypervisors besides VMware. Support for Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors is on the roadmap, and Kempel said he expects one of those will be added this year.

Besides selling its OmniCubes, SimpliVity also has a partnership with Cisco allowing resellers to bundle SimpliVity software and ASIC on Cisco's UCS hardware.

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With the 276 million in funding available for SimpliVity, I can see why they need rapid growth because of the pressures put on from investors.
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