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With all the recent innovations in flash storage design, you’d think we’d have a smooth path toward supporting storage requirements for new hyper-scale datacenters and cloud computing. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Existing storage architectures, despite taking advantage of flash, are doomed in the hyper-scale world. Simply put, storage has not evolved in 30 years, resulting in a huge disconnect between the requirements of the new datacenter and the capability of existing storage systems.

There are two fundamental problems right now: 1) existing storage does not scale for the hyper-scale datacenter and 2) traditional storage stacks have not been architected to take advantage of the recent innovations in flash.

Current storage systems don’t scale because they were designed in the mainframe era. Mainframe-style arrays were designed in a world where a single mainframe provided the compute and a handful of storage arrays hung off the mainframe to support data storage. This one-to-one architecture continues to be used today, despite the fact that the compute side of the hyper-scale datacenter is expanding to hundreds or thousands of individual servers in enterprise datacenters, similar to Google or Amazon. As you can imagine, you achieve theoretically unlimited capacity for compute only to be severely bottlenecked on the storage end of things.

Furthermore, while flash storage has become the hot new thing—super fast, energy efficient, with a smaller form factor—the other internal parts of the storage subsystem have not changed at all. Adding flash to an outdated system is like adding a jet engine to the Wright Brothers’ airplane: pretty much doomed to fail, despite the hype.

This brings me to Coho Data (formerly known as Convergent.io) and a team I’ve worked closely with for years. The founding team includes Ramana Jonnala, Andy Warfield and Keir Fraser, superb product visionaries and architects, with deep domain expertise in virtualization and systems, having built the XenSource open source virtualization stack and scaled it to support some of the biggest public clouds around. This team has built infrastructure software that has been used by hundreds of millions of end users and installed on millions of machines. By applying their expertise and adding key talent with network virtualization experience to the team, they are challenging the fundamentals of storage.

A year after we funded their Series A, having spent that time heads-down building product and piloting with customers, I’m really excited to share that Coho Data today is announcing a revolutionary design in storage that has been built from the inside out to challenge how companies of all sizes think about how they store and deliver access to their data. The team has rebuilt the entire storage array with new software and integrated networking to offer the fastest, most scalable storage system in the market, effectively turning the Wright Brothers’ airframe into an F-16 fighter jet. The Coho DataStream architecture supports the most demanding hyper-scale environments, while at the same time optimizing for the use of commodity flash, all with standard and extensible interfaces and simple integration. As hyper-scale datacenters become the new standard, monolithic storage arrays will go the way of the mainframe.

Coho Data is changing the storage landscape from the inside out and I could not be more thrilled to be part of the most exciting storage company of the cloud generation.

Today I’m excited to announce the company that will transform the networking industry for the cloud era, Cumulus Networks, which has been in stealth for over three years. We were seed investors in Cumulus Networks and later went on to lead their Series A.

In the last decade, the compute side of the datacenter was completely revolutionized by Linux and virtualization running on commodity servers. By untethering the software (i.e., the operating system) from the hardware, the Lintel (Linux and Intel) stack obviated the need for dedicated hardware solutions such as Sun Servers in one fell swoop, bringing radically new economics, performance, scale and innovation to datacenter and cloud environments. This shift became the foundation for the software-defined datacenter.

However, while the server has undergone a complete transformation, the networking stack has remained completely unchanged. In spite of all the recent excitement with OpenFlow and Software-Defined Networking, the OS running inside network gear—the networking switch—is still very much proprietary and tied to proprietary hardware. Today’s most “innovative” network gear resembles a last-generation Sun Server: proprietary, inflexible, expensive and difficult to maintain.

Enter Cumulus Networks, which brings Linux to Networking and can be combined with software-defined networking (e.g. Nicira) to complete the transformation of the network stack for the cloud era. Just as Linux transformed the server, Cumulus Linux will transform the network by making proprietary hardware and software obsolete. Cloud and enterprise datacenters can now choose commodity hardware plus Cumulus Linux software to achieve cloud-scale networking that provides the flexibility and superior economics that only software can deliver.

Cumulus Networks would not be possible if not for the team behind the solution. The founding team, which includes JR Rivers and Nolan Leake, has deep expertise in networking, virtualization and cloud infrastructure. The team also includes a number of senior Engineers from Juniper and Cisco Fellows, which is an elite group of engineers responsible for the most innovative advancements in networking. The founders knew a secret: They knew that networking would no longer require proprietary hardware and software and that the shift to cloud-scale environments would require a new and modern approach to networking. Cumulus Networks is bringing the Linux revolution to networking.

Our investment in Cumulus Networks underscores our excitement about the future of software-based networking. I am thrilled to be representing Andreessen Horowitz on the board of Cumulus Networks and look forward to seeing the transformation of older generation networking to the new architecture of the cloud era.