Today, Canaan Partners and I are announcing our investment in ClusterHQ, a leader in data and storage management for containerized applications.

ClusterHQ is the team behind an open source project called Flocker, a lightweight volume and container manager that allows developers to deploy their entire application (including its databases, queues, and key-value stores) to multiple hosts and migrate them flexibly as operations demand. The solution virtualizes local storage for containers, eventually enabling not only backup and restore but also failover and high availability for the container and its associated storage.

I am investing because containers are the impetus of THE major transformation in application deployment, but are missing critical components to be truly production-ready. The growth and adoption of containers over the past 18 months has been explosive – with over 100M downloads of Docker alone and 75K+ Dockerized applications. Whether alongside VMs or not (but most likely the latter), new container-based architectures are allowing applications to run with less overhead. While the market adoption is exciting, data management is fundamentally missing for current containerized applications. This means that containers are not yet optimized for heavier storage- and database-dependent applications. The ClusterHQ solution enables containerization of

stateful applications, opening the market for containers to any and all applications currently running on VMs. It will be a critical element in making containers ready for production applications.

ClusterHQ is led by Mark Davis, a longtime member of the Canaan family. Mark was most recently co-founder and CEO of Virsto Software, a company that we incubated at Canaan’s Menlo Park office and in which I was lucky enough to be the first investor and board member. Virsto, a pioneer in storage virtualization software, produced enormous efficiency and performance gains at the storage layer that were sorely lacking as VMs infiltrated server architecture. I watched Mark navigate Virsto through some really great times and some pretty trying ones. The team’s drive and focus resulted in a successful acquisition by VMWare in 2013.

We love working with repeat entrepreneurs (and are fortunate to have many of them in the Canaan Partners portfolio), but Mark Davis is only one part of the team that drove me to invest in ClusterHQ. Luke Marsden and Rob Haswell’s team has been building Flocker and its associated stateful container management technology for years and has a massive advantage in this rapidly expanding market. They bring a level of domain expertise, performance, and scalability otherwise unseen in this emergent category.

It promises to be a fun ride. I am thrilled to be working with Mark Davis again and to be co-investing with Kevin Comolli from Accel Partners and several other UK-based investors. ClusterHQ will join onefinestay and Borro as Canaan’s third UK-founded investment in as many years. London must be calling!

Maha Ibrahim

General Partner, The Real Deal


February 9, 2015

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