Formation Data Systems Exits Stealth, Plans Storage Industry Disruption


Formation Data Systems this week came out of stealth mode with a mission to disrupt existing storage infrastructures with a new technology that aims to move customers away from legacy hardware and software to a unified storage solution that supports all types of formats and media.

Fremont, Calif.-based Formation Data Systems also said it received funding to the tune of $24 million from a number of investment companies including one strategic investor, Dell.

Also investing in the company are a number of individuals who see the value of data center disruption, including Box CEO Aaron Levie, Seagate CEO Steve Luczo, Riverbed CEO Jerry Kennelly and InMage CEO Kumar Malavalli.

Formation Data Systems co-founders include CEO Mark Lewis, former EMC executive vice president and CTO and former general manger of the storage division at Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, and COO Andy Jenks.

Formation Data Systems is trying to help move the storage business from one that is siloed according to different vendor offerings, or different technologies like SAN and NAS, which has created poor manageability and efficiency for users, Lewis told CRN.

Lewis also believes current moves to fix storage, including the wave of software-defined storage technologies now hitting the market, mean fixing the problem for a coming boom of new types of applications, including big data, require a new storage architecture.

“Now vendors are trying to create a new layer to manage storage called software-defined storage,” he said. “But that doesn’t eliminate the top problem: There are too many foundational platforms. We’re starting from scratch and doing what Google and Facebook did: Write our own storage platform. Customers don’t want to deal with so many platforms. We feel it’s a great idea.”

The company, in response, has developed Formation XV, or Formation eXtensible Virtualization, a storage virtualization technology based on standard off-the-shelf hardware.

Formation XV embraces flash and spinning disk storage, along with API-based cloud storage, Lewis said.

“The whole idea is to open up all media types and virtualize across them,” he said.

Formation XV includes a data connector that projects a virtualized data layer for any operation. For example, Lewis said, applications needing block storage see the technology as a SAN, those needing file storage see it as a NAS, and other applications see it as block storage like that projected by Amazon Web Services or Swift-based technologies.

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