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Silver Lining Systems, working to demolish data center bottlenecks, raises $2 million

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 19, 2012 11:03 AM

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Update: In February 2013, SilverLining changed its name to Infinio Systems, and announced that it had raised an additional $10 million from Highland Capital Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners.

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A startup with roots at Columbia University is growing in Kendall Square, and building a team chock full of Netezza and Endeca veterans.

Silver Lining Systems doesn't divulge much on its web site, but it does have $2 million in initial funding from California-based Lightspeed Venture Partners, Cambridge's Founder Collective, the NYC Seed Fund, and several angel investors, including Endeca founder Steve Papa; Rob Soni, a special limited partner at Matrix; David Murphy of Blue Coat; and BladeLogic co-founder CEO Dev Ittycheria.

Silver Lining co-founder and chief executive Vishal Misra, a Columbia computer science prof, tells me the company wants to demolish some of the data center bottlenecks that can impair the performance of cloud-based applications and services. Dan Rubinstein, another Columbia prof, is another founder, as is Joshua Reich, a Columbia PhD who is now a fellow at Princeton.

"We're targeting data centers and virtualized environments, and trying to solve the performance problems with storage and networking," Misra says. When a company has hundreds or thousands of virtual machines running on servers in a data center, Misra explains, "if you think about it, every machine is running similar software, and that means the bits are almost identical on all those virtual machines. But the way storage and networking works is that those servers go and fetch the same bits again and again from the storage system. Our thinking is, if the same bits are traveling over a network to multiple CPUs, why not store them or cache them locally?" He says the idea springs from a new kind of networking architecture called "content-centric networking."

Silver Lining has offices in Cambridge and New York, but Misra says the company will primarily be built in Cambridge. Among the employees are former Verizon cloud strategy executive Atul Chhabra; software architect Martin Martin, who left Endeca just last month; Fritz Knabe, who left Netezza in February; ex-Endeca marketing manager Arun Agarwal; Hanhua Feng, who joined Silver Lining from IBM Research; and Peter Smith, Endeca's former director of IT infrastructure.

Endeca was acquired by Oracle last October. Netezza was acquired by IBM in September of 2010.

Misra tells me that Silver Lining continues to hire engineers, and is planning to raise a larger round of venture capital soon. He says the company will also likely hire a new CEO with experience selling enterprise technologies.

Asked whether he describes Silver Lining as a cloud start-up, Misra says, "We're an infrastructure company, improving the infrastructure that drives public or private clouds." The company's clever tag line is "Every cloud needs one."

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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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