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Scality’s headquartered in San Francisco, but it was founded in France and still has most of its workforce there. That trans-Atlantic heritage is reflected in a $22 million funding haul the storage software maker announced Monday night: The round was led by Paris-based Iris Capital and Silicon Valley’s own Menlo Ventures.

Menlo’s Doug Carlisle doug carlisletold me Iris wanted a Sand Hill Road partner, and Menlo had been looking for a while to invest in a software-defined storage company. “We really came to the conclusion that these guys were the best in the world at this particular solution,” he said. In fact, Menlo would have cut an even bigger check, but Scality wanted to leave enough room at the table for all of its prior investors to re-up. (Including rounds in 2010 and 2011, the company has now bagged a total of $35 million in funding.)

Scality plans to use the latest infusion to beef up its sales and marketing teams and add to a customer roster that already includes Time Warner Cable and other big cable operators, Internet portals and mobile companies. Carlisle explains that while traditional (and pricey) storage vendors such as EMC build super-fast technology for computer-to-computer interactions like Wall Street trading, “There’s a huge market now for storing things where there’s a human on the other end of request — e-mail, voicemail, video, pictures. A few more milliseconds of processing time for a human is indistinguishable.” And that, he said, opens the door for players like three-year-old Scality.

He uses the example of a big cable company: “Let’s say you have 20 million customers and give each of them an e-mail account and 3-5 gigs of storage. If you were to try to manage that with EMC or NetApp kinds of storage, it gets very expensive.” That’s because each individual account has to be tied to a particular sector on a disk drive, Carlisle explained.

But by separating the data from the drive, he said, Scality relieves its customers from having to keep close tabs on the information. As the customer’s storage needs increase, Carlisle added, those demands can be met with cheap commodity hardware.

Carlisle also talks up Scality’s data compression algorithms, which he said make it possible to store backup copies of customer data less expensively: ”There’s a big savings in the amount of storage you need,” he said, “and in the complexity to keep it up and running.”

Peter Delevett Peter Delevett (184 Posts)

Peter Delevett covers startups and venture capital for the San Jose Mercury News. He's been a journalist in Silicon Valley since the dot-com daze.