Q&A with Virsto co-founder and CEO Mark Davis
Virsto offers cost-effective and efficient storage for virtualized environments (servers and desktops). The company recently closed a $12 million Series B funding round. Founded in 2007, Virsto is based in Sunnyvale.
SUB: Please briefly explain what Virsto offers, and the value proposition you bring to the enterprise storage market.
Davis: Virsto Software provides innovative solutions to address the growing need for cost-effective and efficient storage for virtual servers and desktops. Companies worldwide use Virsto to achieve breakthrough increases in performance, reduce storage capital and operating costs, and streamline provisioning and data management for virtual computing.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind Virsto? How did the idea develop?
Davis: Server virtualization fundamentally changes the way servers interact with storage. The existing storage architecture was designed 20 years ago and was woefully inadequate to cope with the highly random I/O that virtualized workloads generate. (Co-founders) Serge, Alex and I took our deep background in storage and file systems and designed a software-based solution from the ground up to focus on virtual machines and their unique challenges with storage.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Davis: Fall 2007. After incorporating Virsto we met with dozens of companies in the server virtualization and storage ecosystem to validate assumptions and help generate the spec for our product prototype.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Davis: Virsto Software is the only vendor taking a software-only approach to solving the intrinsic challenges of storage in virtualized environments. There are competing approaches to solving this problem, with SSD appliance vendors such as Tintri and Atlantis, and older architectures being applied to the use case, such as Datacore.
SUB: What differentiates Virsto from its competitors?
Davis: Virsto offers a software-only approach that integrates directly into the hypervisor and works with any block-based storage. Virsto has a unique approach to sequentializing all I/O writes from VMs, and with very sophisticated mapping and logging architecture, that delivers dramatic performance increases while simultaneously reducing the amount of storage required for each VM. Because of the highly scalable snapshots and clones, Virsto also dramatically simplifies and accelerates VM provisioning.
SUB: How are you marketing your software?
Davis: Virsto has multiple routes to market. We are supporting a direct sales motion, partner sales channel, and are actively engaged in OEM discussions.
SUB: You recently raised $12 million in Series B funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
Davis: Virsto will use the proceeds from our recent funding round to significantly expand our go to market functions; expanding our sales and marketing organizations to capitalize on our two-year lead in the market, as well as continue to invest in engineering, development and support staff.
SUB: Why was now the right time to raise more outside funding?
Davis: Virsto raised funding in our A-round with the explicit goal of developing a mature product offering and establishing early customer success. We are very pleased with the high investor interest in this round of funding. The investment community sees storage virtualization as a very large market opportunity and values the proven executive team that Virsto has assembled, as well as the track record of execution and achievement of our stated goals from prior investment rounds.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
Davis: Virsto will continue to execute against the goals that we set for our B-round investment. We see continued interest from the investment community and we will evaluate opportunities as they arise.
SUB: What have the biggest challenges been so far to building/growing Virsto?
Davis: The largest challenge has been finding skilled development resources to deliver enterprise-class infrastructure software. We have been very fortunate to have such a skilled group of engineers, developers and Q/A resources.
SUB: What are your goals for the company over the next year or so? Where do you hope to be?
Davis: Virsto has always had a multi-hypervisor vision and we are focused on continuing to execute on this vision and launch multiple new products in the second half of 2011. We will continue to ramp our sales and customer acquisition and have set clear goals for these activities.
SUB: Finally, a question I always ask: as an entrepreneur who has so far navigated the down economy successfully, what advice do you have for those just starting out with a new business?
Davis: Validate that the problem you are trying to solve is a big, big problem. Find a differentiated way to solve it. Execute, execute, execute.
Virsto Software – www.virsto.com