Archivas was the first company I helped start while at Polaris Venture Partners. The company developed a software-only content archiving solution that was more capable, significantly faster and much cheaper than the market-leading EMC Centera. NASA’s satellite images and the emails Postini (later acquired by Google) processed are some examples of the types of information that lived on Archivas clusters.

Archivas was founded by Andres Rodriguez who used to be CTO at NY Times. Before the days of cheap storage, Andres had to figure out how to put 130 years of past issues of NYT online. It wasn’t easy or cheap. Several years later, the world had changed. Unstructured data had become the fastest-growing content type. Commodity storage and computing prices had dropped to the point where one could tie cheap hardware with smart software to create the world’s most capable, highest performance and cheapest digital archiving platform.

I worked with Andres for many months prior to the creation of Archivas and the Polaris investment. The power of Archivas was in the original insights that led to a unique architecture: 1/3 distributed database, 1/3 storage system and 1/3 flexible platform for indexing, search & policy management across content types. This enabled the company to create powerful OEM and go-to-market partnerships, which ultimately led to Hitachi Data Systems acquiring Archivas in early 2007 for more than $100M.

I learned several important lessons about building and taking to market mission-critical infrastructure. I also learned the importance of being able to say “no” when the acquisition offers come.

Andres, who had started two companies before Archivas, is at it again. He started Nasuni to go after cloud-based storage.

Archivas Storage -- Hitachi Data Systems