Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, January 30, 2023

Investors Target Cloud Data, ‘DataOps’ 

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Investment capital continues to pour into cloud and data platform startups as the rush to hybrid cloud deployments accelerates, bringing with it a new set of requirements for big data and streaming application development across multiple cloud architectures.

For starters, bare metal automation platform specialist Packet announced a $25 million funding round on Tuesday (Sept. 11), with participation from new investor Samsung NEXT along with existing investor Dell Technologies Capital and SoftBank Corp. (TYO: 9984).

Meanwhile, “DataOps” specialist StreamSets disclosed a $35 million funding round this week, bringing its funding total for its multi-cloud data integration framework to $65 million. Battery Ventures is an early investor in both Packet and StreamSets.

Founded in 2014, Packet’s updated cloud platform for developers combines bare metal automation with “carrier-grade” networking capabilities aimed at edge computing applications. Its proprietary approach automates physical servers and networks without virtualization. The startup claims more than 60,000 bare metal installations per month.

The latest investment will be used to expand Packet’s edge computing efforts along with the release of an on-premise version of the software underpinning its public cloud offering.

New York-based Packet said its bare metal cloud focuses on “last mile” infrastructure by automating cloud computing, storage and networking. Developers can then consume those resources at scale, the company claims.

Packet also is bucking the trend in which cloud users are abstracted from infrastructure as tools move further up the technology stack. Nathan Goulding, Packet's senior vice president of engineering, said the startup is focused on “serving up value from the lowest [hardware] layers.”

"Provisioning bare metal hardware in under a minute is an incredible challenge, and cumulatively this improvement will shave off over a decade's worth of time every year waiting for compute resources to be provisioned,” Goulding added.

Elsewhere, StreamSets said this week it would use its latest cash infusion to expand its DataOps approach, defined as the application of DevOps practices to data management and integration to accelerate analytics.

Investors are zeroing in on variations to the traditional DevOps approach as companies shift to microservices such as containers along with public cloud platforms and streaming data frameworks. StreamSet’s DataOps platform is positioned as allowing for the inspection of data flows to detect “data drift,” that is, unexpected changes in data structure or semantics that can lead to data pipeline breakdowns.

Unlike traditional data integration approaches, the startup said the data drift capability can be used to protect sensitive data while streaming, thereby enforcing service-level agreements for fast-moving data in a $10 billion data integration market.

StreamSets latest funding round was led by Harmony Partners, which has also invested in data catalog pioneer Alation, time-series database vendor InfluxData and Qubole, the big data processing engine vendor.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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