Virtualisation pioneer’s start-up secures $6m in Series A funding

9 Dec 2020

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Julian Chesterfield’s start-up Sunlight has closed an early funding round that will support commercial growth in 2021.

Sunlight has closed a $6m Series A funding round led by OpenOcean, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Based in Cambridge, UK, Sunlight develops virtualisation technology for data-intensive applications, such as artificial intelligence, analytics and big data.

“Cloud has been instrumental in unlocking greater IT flexibility,” said Sunlight founder and CEO Julian Chesterfield. “The next challenge is supporting the creation and processing of skyrocketing data volumes efficiently. It’s not uncommon to see enterprises hike their infrastructure costs up to 10 times for some data-intensive applications when they move to the cloud. This is where Sunlight comes into play.

“By transforming cloud infrastructures, we’re allowing businesses to achieve huge efficiencies, cost savings and performance gains for today’s most highly demanding workloads – from genetic sequencing and automated drone monitoring to rendering high-definition movies.”

Robert Bosch Venture Capital also participated in the Series A round, and Chesterfield said this investment will set the company up for “rapid growth” in 2021. This will include the expansion of Sunlight’s commercial operations and its footprint in the US market especially.

‘We believe Sunlight will become an indispensable foundation for future data centres and enterprise software’

“The value of Sunlight goes far beyond cost savings on infrastructure and ease of use,” said Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at OpenOcean.

“The cloud market is changing rapidly, with increasing data volumes creating a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for a new platform enabler. We believe Sunlight will become an indispensable foundation for future data centres and enterprise software – removing input-output bottlenecks across compute, network and storage.”

Almasque added that the team at OpenOcean were impressed to see its portfolio companies, MariaDB and MySQL, running on Sunlight “with significant service improvements”.

Other enterprises using Sunlight’s technology include Splunk, Elastic Search and Cloudera. The company has alsos partnered with distributors including Synnex in the US, Altos in APAC, and Boston in EMEA.

Virtualisation visionary

Chesterfield was part of the original Xen hypervisor project at the University of Cambridge’s computer science lab. Xen virtualisation was core to Amazon Web Services’ widely used cloud-computing platform until a recent shift towards the Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor.

It was while working on a small-footprint virtualisation project with Arm that Chesterfield and his team saw the need to create a new technology, which evolved into Sunlight.

Sunlight’s complete hyperconverged infrastructure stack has been designed with a small footprint that aims to deliver high performance and simplicity. Because of this minimal footprint, Sunlight has positioned itself for the growth of computing on the edge.

Gartner predicts that, within the next five years, the amount of enterprise-generated data created and processed on the edge will reach 75pc, up from just 10pc in 2018.

Along with this forecast, increasing reliance on data-intensive applications for analytics and, more frequently, artificial intelligence is expected to continue. Sunlight claims that its virtualisation technology can tackle bottlenecks caused by this upward trend in data creation, while cutting the cost of IT infrastructure.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.