AtScale sees momentum as ‘Switzerland of big data’, announces multimillion-dollar deals and new CEO | Tech News

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 multi-million-dollar deals with customers like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Home Depot, Visa, Toyota, and GlaxoSmithKline over the last six months.

Above: AtScale CEO Chris Lynch

Moreover, it announced Chris Lynch, who formerly led several successful virtualization and big-data companies, has joined as chief executive. He was previously CEO of Vertica, which HP acquired in 2011 for $350 million. Before that, he was CEO and co-founder of Acopia a network storage virtualization company, acquired by F5 Networks in 2007 for $210 million.

To explain what AtScale does, take its customer Home Depot for example. Initially, Home Depot 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 allowed Home Depot’s users to 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 able to compare their Home Depot store performances with others stores in their 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 Dave Mariani, co-founder of AtScale, and outgoing CEO, in an interview.

Home Depot business users can work with gigabytes or terabytes of data — too much to fit into a spreadsheet. Yet Home Depot’s users can access the data using Excel, and they 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 his aha moment about Atscale’s potential came after a meeting with Mariani, when Lynch was an investor and 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 said AtScale has “three dozen of the largest companies in the world that have bet the farm on this,” and that are already spending double-digit millions with AtScale.

However, AtScale does have some competitors. Merv Adrian, an analyst at Gartner, said that companies like Pepperdata, and especially Dremio, are developing products that are similar to AtScale’s. Dremo 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 Research. Most of them have been stymied by the infrastructure issues that AtScale solves. He said that Lynch is a “tremendous fit” at the company, given both his business experience and background at companies like Acopia and Vertica.

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