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Actifio pockets $33.5 million to help corporations cope with the data explosion

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 5, 2011 09:47 AM

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When you purchase a toaster oven, execute a stock trade, or hire someone new for your department, you've probably never thought about how many digital records exist of those transactions.

But Ash Ashutosh has. The founder of Waltham-based Actifio says that organizations sometimes keep anywhere from 15 to 120 copies of the same file. "In starting the company, we talked to 40-plus customers," Ashutosh says, "and everywhere we saw evidence of this data explosion, and the need to shrink the storage footprint." In other words, the amount of data most companies accumulate is increasing fast. But why should they be spending money to store so many copies of the same stuff?

Actifio is planning to announce today that it has raised $33.5 million in its third round of funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz of California. The company had previously raised $24 million from North Bridge Venture Partners, Advanced Technology Ventures, and Greylock Partners. The new money will go toward global expansion and a marketing push.

Actifio's pitch is that its software can supplant the various backup, compliance, and snapshot software that companies use to archive copies of important files, and make those files easily accessible to any application that needs them, whether it's a customer relationship management application or inventory management software. "We don't sell disk storage," Ashutosh says, "so our customers can use whatever storage vendor they like — IBM, HP, EMC, NetApp, and so on." The company is targeting medium and large-sized enterprises, service providers, and "people building cloud services or grappling with big data challenges," Ashutosh says.

Rather than stashing 15 or more copies of the same file, he says Actifio's magic number is 1.6. "You can keep more copies, if you want," Ashutosh says, "but that's the number of copies you need to make the file available everywhere."

"Every enterprise and every Web site has storage behind it, and lots of data being created," says Peter Levine, the general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who is joining Actifio's board. "The cost of storage itself has been going down, but the expense and the management overhead of keeping track of all those copies is huge."

Ashutosh was previously the founder of AppIQ, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2005 for an undisclosed amount; several other AppIQ veterans are part of the management team at Actifio. The company has about 50 employees in Waltham, and 50 elsewhere.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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