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Hammerspace Takes On Institutional Investors | David Flynn


Guest: David Flynn (LinkedIn)
Company: Hammerspace (Twitter)
Show: Newsroom

Leading data orchestration company Hammerspace announced that it raised $56.7 million in its first round of institutional investment. Leading this round is Prosperity7 Ventures, along with Pier 88 Ventures, ARK Invest, and others.

In this episode of TFiR: Newsroom, Hammerspace Founder and CEO David Flynn shares the details of this investment round and how the company is enabling organizations to orchestrate their data across different points of infrastructure to drive operational efficiency.

Current data trends:

  • COVID highlighted the need to have a highly decentralized organization to support people not just working from home down the street from the office but working from their home country on the other side of the world.
  • Companies have tapped into the global talent market. If this is data-intensive work, they need to be able to interact with it with low latency and nearby.
  • There have been major shifts in supply chains, and difficulties in getting gear.
  • There is a need for more exotic types of processing. GPUs are very big. CPUs and specialized hardware are hard to come by, especially with chip shortages, prompting the need to move to a cloud model.
  • AI and other workloads are bringing high performance to the forefront. It used to be that high performance was a niche thing, but now it’s the mainstay.
  • There is a need to move to an orchestrated model to preserve and access data. The old model of “store and copy” doesn’t work.
  • With AI, ML, and modern analytics, all data has become useful because technology has gotten advanced enough to be able to make logical sense of these things and to be able to perceive images.
  • There is a shift in the breadth of data: away from structured data as the focal point to where now it’s all data, including unstructured.
  • There is a shift in the depth of data across time: it is no longer a linear lifecycle where it goes from hot and useful to cooling off and cold into a long tail. It can have a resurgence in value sometime in the future. It’s about keeping everything online and consumable because it can provide a foundation to interpret other things.
  • This is the new era where data is orchestrated across different points of infrastructure, at scale, and directly consumable.
  • Choosing where to put the data and when to pick it up and move it can now be done using automation.
  • Artificial intelligence tools are used to make decisions about where the data is placed, when it’s moved, and how it’s made available. This helps tighten the feedback loop.
  • The human talent in data science can now do more advanced tasks such as value extraction, instead of manually moving data around in the plumbing area.
  • Workloads generally involve getting the data in, capturing the checkpoints, getting the data out, and then iterating and refining, filtering, modeling, and running a whole plethora of different tools to filter those datasets.

The Hammerspace advantage:

  • Hammerspace is unique in that it is the first company that has built a file system that is capable of spanning infrastructure of any type, from any vendor file, block, or object from any of the vendors of block storage, file storage, object storage, whether it’s on prem or in the cloud.
  • The actual logical structure of the data, the file system, the directories are the same, regardless of where the data is, at any given point in time distributed across that infrastructure.
  • It can automate the granular movement of data. Through policy, data can be pushed to the places where it’s needed, from one cloud to another, from one data center to another, etc. And you can use AI to help identify those things and get them moved.
  • It will do the work to go in and pull data and because it’s down to the individual files, you can work with massive datasets.
  • Data orchestration means that you never have to stop your use of the data to be able to move it. Hammerspace assumes that data is always in motion, that datasets are going from one place to another.
  • This is fundamentally different from data management, which assumes you have to stop using it in order to copy it. The movement of data is exclusive to the use of data.
  • The movement of data, the scheduling of how things get moved from one site to another, can finally be automated and free up folks to work at the platform and data layers, instead of the infrastructure layer.
  • With the data being orchestrated so that on-prem file systems can also be present in the cloud and in different regions or business models, whether you have cloud or colo facilities nearby, you have a presentation of all of the same data with high performance.
  • You can tap into the global talent pool and have them be readily productive because they have access to the data nearby, wherever they are.
  • One of its customers is Blue Origin, a Jeff Bezos company. It uses Hammerspace as its data platform for its on-prem infrastructure and the ability to move it into the cloud.

The Hammerspace challenge:

  • People are still used to data being physically bound in the infrastructure. Part of Hammerspace’s challenge is to get people to imagine a world where data is not something that’s rendered by storage, but something that transcends the infrastructure.
  • People are stuck in that mindset that data is so hard to move, that it’s so disruptive to move it, and that we have to move the workload to the data.
  • Compute requires exotic processors, has to be physically stacked, and plugged into the power grid. The fact is, data is digital, so it’s the thing that ought to be moved, not the other way around.

First-ever institutional investment:

  • Hammerspace announced $56.7 million in funding in its first round of institutional investment, led by Prosperity7 Ventures.
  • This announcement is very important because it represents the first time Hammerspace has taken on institutional investors.
  • When it was launched in 2018, Flynn personally financed the company to the tune of $20 million.
  • The company was privileged enough to be able to wait before taking on external partners and that allowed them to be selective. They want investors who understand the long-term vision of the company, who would hold and grow with the company, even after they go public.
  • This is about redefining how data is made permanent and how data is made available for use away from an infrastructure-centric model, which is going to take a major investment in time.
  • Prosperity7 has one limited partner (Saudi Aramco) and they are investing for the long run because they’re investing money in future technologies. ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood created a whole new asset class of investment (disruptive innovation) in companies who stand to disrupt entire industries. It’s a very big privilege to have her jump in early.

This summary was written by Camille Gregory.