Today, it’s my proud responsibility to announce the closure of CTERA’s $25M C-Round of financing and to welcome Bessemer Venture Partners to a team of world-class investors that includes Benchmark, Cisco and Venrock. The financing round serves not only as a springboard for CTERA to build out our global sales and marketing platform, but also serves as a significant validation of our offering, our amazing early-adopter deployments, and our unique business model. As the IT industry is only now exiting the formative stages of a massive technology disruption propelled by cloud services and mobility, this investment is intended to reshape the future of cloud storage at a time when the market is searching for new tools to help organizations sync, serve and protect data all over the world.
As the title of this blog alludes to, the IT industry is entering into a new era of cloud-enabled services where enterprises and service providers, alike, will spend over $100 billion on cloud infrastructure and services this year alone (IDC). The cloud market is growing more than 25% annually, which is rapid growth for a $100B market… but this sum is simply evidence of a disruption, not the cause of it. Allow me now to expand on how all of this impacts CTERA and how CTERA is extremely well positioned to catalyze the cloud storage disruption.
My twitter-length executive summary (140 characters! – if you like it, Tweet it!):
- cloud+mobile = landscape disruption
- last-mile decides the victors
- @CTERA’s ecosystem = massive leverage
- our platform is foundational
1. Cloud services and mobility have obviously changed the way data is consumed
For cost and agility reasons, organizations are consolidating infrastructure to cloud data centers (on-premises, off-premises or hybrid) as they transform themselves into cloud services providers and IT-as-a-Service providers.
On the user side, cloud services are highly complementary to the rise of smart devices and BYOD across the enterprise – where employees now expect demand access to their data from any point in the world, at any time, from any device. This convergence of disruptions has given rise to new cloud-enabled storage services that can be delivered either via a customer’s own private (or virtual private) cloud – or they can be rented as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) directly from a cloud storage Independent Software Vendor (ISV) who hosts their own service. Customers chose between one cloud mode or the other based on cost, data security, data sovereignty, business model, etc.
There are a number of new and exciting companies operating in the cloud-enabled storage space. Both Box and CTERA (to highlight two industry leaders) share a focus on transforming how organizations use cloud-enabled storage across any device. Where Box focuses on providing a turnkey solution, CTERA provides a services delivery platform that can be deployed en masse by many enterprises and service providers who, in turn, are looking to transform into internal or external SaaS providers. It’s not just technology for the sake of technology, the customers are validating this too – you may remember earlier this year when CTERA announced that we tripled our customer base to over 21,000 paying business customers. In both examples of business models – CTERA’s and the SaaS model – the focus is on enabling the disruption… but the paths to success are decidedly different…
2. The market is nascent. The “last mile” is just coming online
CTERA views the cloud storage market as roughly stratifying into three different categories of cloud service delivery and usage, per the following breakdown:
- Enterprise customers who will build their own clouds (or virtual private clouds): for cost and/or data security reasons, these organizations will seek cloud solutions to battle unsanctioned SaaS solutions used within their organizations.
- Organizations who subscribe to cloud-based SaaS services: those that no longer want to deploy their own infrastructure and/or software, and who simply want on-demand services.
- Software-as-a-Service companies: on-demand storage-as-a-service providers that focus on business customers and who often develop a closed delivery ecosystem.
While slow to get out of the gate, IT titans are now aggressively executing on their cloud agendas where they bring a number of significant advantages to the table vs. emerging SaaS players. In many ways, there are many parallels to the cable industry, where the “last mile” customer relationships (and often the last mile of broadband connection) will determine the next generation of cloud adoption:
- Security-conscious business customers will own the last mile through ensuring IT policy with in-firewall solutions for the enterprise.
- Carriers and managed service providers will leverage their millions of business customers to deliver simple, managed cloud services, leveraging their own data center investments and IT staff to ensure profitability and data sovereignty.
With an industry of diverse players that today represents over $50B of storage sales, the ship is actively getting turned toward the new cloud and mobile opportunity that will favor storage services platform providers that enable a broad ecosystem to deploy services on the clouds of their choice.
3. The CTERA Ecosystem is Large and Growing Rapidly
To capitalize on the disruption, CTERA has identified unprecedented demand among leading service providers, resellers and integrators and cloud storage vendors who have all assembled to provide customer-ready cloud storage solutions. By optimizing their cloud choices and leveraging these solutions across their existing sales and support teams, these solutions are both cost-effective (vs. SaaS-based solutions) and also highly enabling to our channel’s long-term business models. The resulting effect is that, as a platform provider, CTERA has assembled a worldwide ecosystem consisting of 100s of partners and 10Ks of channel and technology salespeople that can monetize millions of pre-existing customer relationships. Here’s a few examples:
When you consider all of the aspects of cloud-enabled storage delivery – whether the end customer deploys a private or a hosted solution – the CTERA partner ecosystem enables broad participation in the solution delivery value chain where the total revenue streams from CTERA-powered solutions is approaching 5x the revenue of CTERA alone. Our mission is to transform the way people sync, serve and protect data. Our business is partner-centric to enable the greatest level of customer choice. Our value, is our Platform…
4. The deployable, secure and versatile Platform
Today’s cloud-enabled, mobile organization is facing unprecedented demand to deliver data across any number of storage services and, at the same time, to minimize IT costs and administration overhead. Businesses don’t just want to back up their data, they don’t just want to sync their data and they are all searching for new ways to leverage the cloud to simplify storage infrastructures.
On the IT side – scalability is key, where managed, multi-tenant solutions must be able to support millions of end users and 100,000s of tenants. In the cloud era, scalability is a byproduct of smart, distributed software that understands how to optimize data transfers and automate administration. Organizational scalability is achieved as many use cases are addressed with centrally-managed and versatile service delivery systems, and that’s where CTERA comes in. We enable the service provider in every organization.
CTERA provides IT-As-A-Service and Cloud Storage Service Providers with the ultimate advantage when delivering cloud-enabled storage services. In defining our product strategy – we identified key attributes of a Platform-First architecture that are critical to the solution today and set the foundation for our long term product vision:
- Extensibility. CTERA’s Platform can be extended to support a wide number of centrally managed services. Today our Platform presents sync, backup and file server services… tomorrow, the solution will be extended to deliver advanced data insights, information governance and more.
- Central Management and Service Delivery. CTERA was founded by a team of managed services experts who, previous to CTERA, helped reshape the market for managed security appliances. Applying the same concept from the security space to storage – CTERA has engineered a system that features automated and template-based administration to eliminate endpoint systems administration and, at the same time, minimize central IT management overhead.
- Integration. There’s no such thing as a closed platform. The ecosystem is key. CTERA’s suite of published, open APIs have already been integrated with leading service delivery and CRM systems. These APIs will continue to be extended as CTERA addresses a wider range of data management use cases in conjunction with an expanding ecosystem and integrator initiative.
- Security. CTERA was founded by security experts who appreciate the value of knowing where your data is and placing strict controls on data distribution. We’ve engineered for end-end customer-managed encryption via each and every data storage service and every day enable our customers to ensure uncompromised compliance with IT security and compliance policies.
As we reflect today on this special milestone and upon the unique position that CTERA is in, it’s equally important to recognize the worldwide team at CTERA. Everyday, I’m amazed at the progress that we make as an organization as well of the impact that a lean and hungry team of cloud storage lovers is making on the the traditional IT guard…and winning. Much of our story is yet to be written, but the first chapters are incredibly inspiring and we can’t wait to unveil the next chapters.
The Platform Era begins now. The choice… is yours.
CEO & Co-Founder