AtScale, which is building an abstraction software layer that allows companies to seamlessly work on data projects in the cloud or on-premises, today announced at least six new multi-million-dollar customers, and a new CEO.
Founded five years ago, Silicon Valley-based AtScale is one of only a few companies making it easier for enterprise business professionals to work on data projects in the cloud, even if those workloads are stored on-premise. Research firm 451 has called AtScale the “Switzerland of big data.”
The company’s offering is particularly significant because it comes as many large companies are trying to transform their architecture to more easily work on big data problems, many of which include AI. Oftentimes, these projects require the scalability of the cloud, but business users don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving workloads to the cloud, or even to Hadoop, which is short of the cloud.
AtScale told VentureBeat it has signed multimillion-dollar deals with customers like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Home Depot, Visa, Toyota, and GlaxoSmithKline over the last six months.
Moreover, the company announced that Chris Lynch, who formerly led several successful virtualization and big data companies, has joined AtScale as CEO. He previously served as CEO of Vertica, which HP acquired in 2011 for $350 million. Before that, he was CEO and cofounder of Acopia, a network storage virtualization company that was acquired by F5 Networks in 2007 for $210 million.
A look at AtScale customer Home Depot illustrates how the service works.
Home Depot initially had 3,000 business users accessing spreadsheet application Excel on a Microsoft SQL server analysis services cube, hosted on-premise. In a first step, AtScale let Home Depot’s users connect Excel to Hadoop, instantly allowing them to crunch years of data (versus a single month previously), and with much reduced latency. The business users were also able to compare their Home Depot store performance with that of other stores in the region, something not possible using their on-premise data warehouse architecture.
Then, in a second step, Home Depot used AtScale to migrate virtually to the cloud — by simply switching the Excel connection from Hadoop to the Google cloud. “The business users didn’t know the difference,” explained AtScale cofounder and outgoing CEO Dave Mariani, in an interview.
Home Depot business users can work with gigabytes or terabytes of data — too much to fit into a spreadsheet. These users can still access the data using Excel and can then use Tableau, Business Objects, MicroStrategy, or any other business intelligence tool and get the same results with all of them, Mariani explained.
Lynch said he had an “aha” moment about Atscale’s potential after a meeting with Mariani, when Lynch was an investor and still thinking about what he wanted to do next. “After the meeting, I jumped on a redeye, and I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about what they were doing,” he said in an interview. “They’ve created an additional extraction layer that allows the movement to the cloud. For most of my career, I’ve been building that abstraction layer.”
The average Fortune 500 company has 25,000 applications, Lynch said. “We rewrite those applications to the cloud.”
He added that AtScale has “three dozen of the largest companies in the world that have bet the farm on this” and are already spending double-digit millions with AtScale.
However, the company does have some competitors. Gartner analyst Merv Adrian said that companies like Pepperdata, and especially Dremio, are developing products that are similar to AtScale’s. Dremio launched last year, after spending years in stealth, and has raised $40 million, according to Crunchbase. Pepperdata has raised $22 million.
Adrian said AtScale serves a strong market, especially when it comes to “Hadoop remediation.” Only about 15-20 percent of companies that have used Hadoop have been successful, according to Gartner, as most of them have been stymied by the infrastructure issues that AtScale solves.
And Lynch is a “tremendous fit” for the company, Adrian said, given his business experience and background at companies like Acopia and Vertica.