Startup Infinio looks to channel to take on flash vendors with new I/O optimization solution

Infinio is announcing a partner program, looking to sign up and support a significant number of partners to sell an innovative software-based I/O optimization solution.

Arun Agarwal 240

Arun Agarwal, Infinio’s CEO

 Cambridge MA-based Infinio, a startup with a new type of solution to accelerate storage in virtualized data centers, is adding a channel to its go-to-market strategy, and is announcing a Channel Partner Program today at the VMware Partner Exchange.

The company got its start several years ago when the two cofounders, Arun Agarwal, who is now the CEO, and Vishal Misra, a computing science professor at Columbia who is also Infinio’s chief scientist, teamed up to commercialize research coming out of Misra’s lab.

“The problem of storage performance is so painful, and the growth of all-flash and converged infrastructure shows its extent,” Agarwal said. “We applied the Columbia research to this problem, and designed a better way to do storage acceleration. It allows for the use of existing resources rather than getting a new big array to improve performance. We take RAM and CPU from servers and pool it together across layers to make storage run faster without buying any new hardware. It’s a software solution to what has traditionally been a hardware issue.

“We offer a lower cost way to get the same result,” Agarwal stressed.

Their technology is feasible today because of the power of the new Intel cores, since it requires a lot of CPU, as well as inline deduplication. Server-side cache is also more prevalent today than previously.

In terms of positioning, Infinio is a direct competitor to all-flash vendors like Pure Storage, but complements the other type of traditional and hyperconverged vendors out there.

“We are an alternative to an all-flash array.” Agarwal said. “Our message is don’t buy all-flash. Get a box filled with disks and use our server-side solution to get high performance at a much lower cost per IO. This leapfrogs the all flash market. On the other hand, nothing stops us from running on top of a Nutanix or other hyperconverged solution. And we give better use of traditional storage like EMC or NetApp in their present environment.”

Infinio’s target audience ranges from mid-market companies all the way up to large enterprises.

“Midmarket customers have the same storage problem as enterprises,” Agarwal said. “Only smaller customers, who don’t have the IT infrastructure, would not benefit from this.”

Infinio is a VMware technology partner, and also works closely with EMC and NetApp, with NetApp’s CTO being on their board, informally.

“We are also Citrix-ready, as we did Citrix before Microsoft because a lot of people run XenDesktop on top of VMware,” Agarwal said. “Microsoft is on our 2015 roadmap, and after Hyper-V, KVM and the others are scheduled for 2016.”

Infinio got their Series A funding in August 2012, started shipping product a little over a year ago, and to this point has been selling 100 per cent direct, which Agarwal said was feasible when getting the product off the ground because it’s software-only and thus a simpler sale.

“We are expanding to the channel now because VMware clusters are sold by channel partners,” he said. “This same simplicity works well for the channel, because they can install this in 30 minutes.”

VMware partners are likely to be the partners they will be signing up out of the gate, and compared to many new storage vendors, they plan to enlist quite a few – and support them.

“We are looking to sign up hundreds of partners,” Agarwal said. “This is a very big initiative for the company

“The big thing from our part is marketing commitment,” Agarwal said. “We are not just signing people up. We want to build businesses with our channel partners, to do business with them. We will do a lot of co-selling, and will help them on their first couple of deals.” To this end, Infinio will be running an aggressive ‘Back to the Base’ campaign to co-market to the existing VMware base.

The new partner program, which is designed to get partners up and running quickly, emphasizes that kind of support, like establishing a co-selling strategy, joint marketing activities, free technical training and NFR licenses. There are also what Agarwal termed “very attractive discounts” and they have a partner portal.

While Infinio is working with distribution internationally, at this point in North America they plan to have a one-tier model where they work directly with their partners.

“This is a great opportunity for the channel, and the initial response has been very, very positive,” Agarwal said.