SageCloud gets $10M to build Facebook cold storage for the rest of us

Derrick Harris

June 11, 2013

A storage startup called SageCloud is looking to deliver low-cost backup storage to the masses who want Facebook-like cold storage without resorting to tape, cloud services or building their own gear.

A Boston-based storage vendor called SageCloud has raised a $10 million Series B round for its line of storage systems that resembles a Frankenbaby between Amazon Glacier and Backblaze’s open source storage designs. SageCloud’s business-class backup systems run on desktop hard drives and, according to the company’s website, typically begin at 1 petabyte of storage.

Using desktop drives and selling at petabyte-scale might seem insane, but SageCloud is trying to solve a very real problem. Companies of all sorts — Facebook most publicly, perhaps — are trying to figure out how to economically store the huge amounts of data they need to for regulatory purposes or want to for analytic or other purposes. The one caveat, of course, is that they can’t resort to tape because they might still actually want to access and use that data without all the waiting and other work.

Facebook is still looking for the ideal medium to solve its cold storage problem (it’s even considering Blu-ray), but it has built a special section of data designed to house this data that its applications no longer need on a regular basis. Amazon Web Services is offering disk-based archival as a service via its Glacier service. Some companies and institutions that want to host their data on site have turned to Backblaze’s storage pods, a desktop-drive-based storage system designed and then open sources by the cloud backup provider. (The Central Intelligence agency has even shown interest.)

(And if you come to our Structure conference next week in San Francisco, you can hear Facebook VP of Engineering Jay Parikh, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels and Backblaze CEO Gleb Budman talk all about their approaches to solve big, slow data on the cheap.)

So it’s only natural that a company like SageCloud would step in to fill the void for organizations that want to keep data on-premises but don’t want to build something themselves. It’s promising high reliability, low energy consumption and even lower cost. Maybe it’s even more natural that its founder, Jeff Flowers, would spot the opportunity: He was previously co-founder and CTO of cloud backup service Carbonite and likely has seen how high costs can creep even into backup once you reach a certain scale.

It might not be the highest-margin business around — SageCloud obviously eschews the high-performance drives and fancy software that drive enterprise storage costs through the roof — but that’s probably alright if there are customers willing to buy. This business is all about volume, and a petabyte apiece is nothing to scoff at.

SageCloud launched in August 2012 with $3.2 million in venture capital from Matrix Partners. Braemar Energy Ventures led the Series B round, with Matrix also pitching in.