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Carbonite co-founder Jeff Flowers talks about new venture SageCloud, focused on 'cold storage' for corporate data

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 14, 2013 07:30 AM

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The amount of data companies store just keeps on growing, and SageCloud is one of the latest local startups to suggest it has a solution. "Most of the data can be put in cold storage," says SageCloud founder Jeff Flowers. That means it's recorded to a hard drive and not accessed very frequently; when it is, you likely don't need it in less than a second.

Flowers, a co-founder and former chief technology officer of the publicly-traded backup company Carbonite, is heading to the Open Compute Summit in Silicon Valley this week to demo and discuss what SageCloud has been designing. It's an assemblage of software, commodity hardware, and support services that will enable companies to operate their own on-site "private clouds" to keep large quantities of data in cold storage, at low costs, Flowers says.

"Data is growing at about 60 percent per year, and the IT staff that manage it is growing at five percent," says Flowers. As much as 70 percent of a company's data can be put in cold storage, he asserts. That might be a stock trade or a medical record that needs to be kept for a mandated time period, but doesn't need to be referenced or changed very often. It could also be the original video from a TV show that may not be needed again until someone decides to put out a "Best Of" DVD in a decade.

At the Open Compute gathering, which focuses on making data center technology more efficient and economical, Flowers will be presenting the SageCloud hardware design, for an archiving appliance that consists of just three power-efficient components. (An early prototype is pictured above.) He's offering it as a new standard for long-term data storage. The company's plan is to sell its software in conjunction with hardware built to this standard by any number of vendors. (The first vendor will likely be Arizona-based Avnet.) SageCloud may also sell professional services to help customers deploy or manage its storage system.

sagecloudteam.jpgThe company has raised $3.2 million in funding so far, most of it from Waltham-based Matrix Partners. Flowers says that SageCloud plans to begin a beta test in April with at least two customers, and spend the rest of the year working out the kinks in its offering. The ten-person company operates virtually today, but will be moving into office space in Boston's Financial District in March. (Several members of the team previously worked at Carbonite, and Carbonite chief executive David Friend serves as SageCloud's chairman.) Flowers expects the headcount will be about 30 by the end of the year. Among the people he's trying to hire are vice presidents of engineering and marketing.

In the photo, from left to right, are SageCloud team members Mark Rees, Andy Brown, Robert Myhill, Flowers, and Jim Koschella. All except Koschella were previously at Carbonite.

I last wrote about SageCloud in July 2012.

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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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