Portworx — Enabling DevOps To Build And Manage Stateful Container-based Applications

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Portworx, a company bringing a novel way of managing stateful container-based applications that need to access different types of storage. Having kept a close eye on the pace of container adoption, as well as its hurdles, we at Sapphire believe that the team at Portworx is poised to become a key enabler in this containerization trend. We think this is the right team with the right product addressing a big DevOps pain-point at the right time.

Over the last year, we’ve seen attitudes around containers shift from a state of peak confusion to widespread experimentation and adoption in production use cases. As a driving force in the micro-services and continuous integration/continuous delivery movements, containers represent a paradigm shift for application architecture that is as fundamental as cloud computing and virtualization. The benefits of containers are clear and translate directly to an increase in the enterprise’s ability to seamlessly deliver improved products to customers at a faster clip.

Yet, for all the promise of containers, challenges hinder its potential for a broad swath of use cases (i.e., stateful applications). The portability of applications counts for little when accessing the same data across both sessions and availability zones is not as automatic as launching the application itself. For stateful containers, manual infrastructure tweaking and custom scripting are often required to make persistent data available across various environments in which a containerized application might run. This negates the advantages of an architecture designed to spin up and down rapidly anywhere and in the cloud (public, private or hybrid).

With the vision of opening up the container ecosystem to applications that need to maintain state and access storage without the need of mapping LUNs and NFS mounts, the team at Portworx has built a container-native data services solution from the ground up. Underpinning its product is the philosophy that storage management and provisioning should be both simple — it should just work — and comprehensive in addressing DevOps needs of simplicity and scalability while also addressing enterprise IT needs such as security and performance reliability. We believe that Portworx has developed a solution that aptly represents its vision and philosophy, with feedback from customers further validating our view.

Portworx is deployed and managed as a container through any existing orchestrator like Kubernetes or Mesosphere. DevOps can automatically provision storage for container-based applications/micro-services looking to read and write data while IT gets visibility into usage and performance. Portworx obviates the need to map storage volumes to hosts where certain stateful container-based applications might run. Instead it allows these stateful applications to seamlessly access the storage needed wherever they want to run without any mapping. It also provides enterprise features such as encryption, snapshots and replication. In short, Portworx elegantly addresses key pain points of storage management for containers with the user and business requirements in sharp focus.

Driving this effort is a team that we’re truly excited to support. Murli, Gou and Vinod are a repeat founding team from Ocarina Networks, a storage optimization company acquired by Dell in 2010. Eric joins from Google, where he was the first product manager for Kubernetes. This team clearly has the right DNA to reimagine data services for containers.

Moreover, we’re excited about the role Portworx plays in the DevOps ecosystem — a space in which Sapphire has been deeply involved via investments in companies like JFrog, Catchpoint, Iron.io and PubNub. In fact, last year we hosted a forum dedicated specifically to the new enterprise tech stack and the potential for innovators, like Portworx, to hasten the pace of innovation. We look forward to helping the Portworx team by promoting their solution and vision with all of the Global 2000 companies within our enterprise network seeking to take full advantage of containers.

Jai Das
Managing Partner
Sapphire Ventures


The information set forth herein is not intended to constitute investment advice and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures. Sapphire Ventures does not solicit or make its services available to the public and none of the funds are currently open to new investors. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

Any portfolio companies referred to above do not necessarily represent all of the investments made or recommended by Sapphire Ventures, and were not selected based on the return on Sapphire Ventures’ investment in them. It should not be assumed that any specific investments identified and discussed herein were or will be profitable. Not all investments made by Sapphire Ventures will be profitable or will equal the performance of any of the companies identified above. View all of Sapphire Ventures’ investments here.