Kiran Bhageshpur
Kiran Bhageshpur

Igneous Systems has been operating in stealth mode since the company was formed with a $3 million seed round last fall. And not much is going to change now that a huge $23.6 million series A financing has arrived from New Enterprise Associates, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures and Isilon co-founder Sujal Patel — a round that’s being announced today.

Starting an interview with GeekWire, Igneous founder and CEO Kiran Bhageshpur bluntly notes: “I would like to not say anything about what we are actually doing.”

Igneous is very much in the early-stages of development, with Bhageshpur telling us that it could be well into 2015 before he’d feel comfortable sharing details about the data center infrastructure product they’re working on.

Nonetheless, $23.6 million is a pretty big bet on a company that’s just getting off the ground.

So, who are these guys?

Bhageshpur, for one, is the former vice president of engineering in the Isilon Storage Division at EMC, having spent six years in senior engineering roles at the company. Another Isilon engineering vet, Jeff Hughes, is serving as VP of Engineering at Igneous.

Of course, Madrona was an early investor in Isilon — obtaining a huge win when the storage company sold to EMC for $2.25 billion in 2010.

Byron
Byron Rakitzis

Also on the Igneous team is Byron Rakitzis, who holds more than 30 patents in storage and file systems and was the first non-founding employee of NetApp, a data storage and cloud computing giant that now boasts a market value of $11.5 billion.

“We are building a team that is really bringing together the best and brightest of traditional enterprise infrastructure folks, as well as cloud infrastructure providers, like AWS and Azure,” said Bhageshpur. “I do believe that we have a different twist on where we see the evolution of enterprise data centers, and that’s kind of what our focus is. I will leave it at that.”

The 8-month-old company — housed at Madrona’s offices in Seattle — could have located in Silicon Valley where Bhageshpur has deep roots.

But the entrepreneur, who says he’s grown to love the Seattle (even the rain) since moving to town in 2008, chose the Pacific Northwest because of its vibrant startup ecosystem and strong tech talent.

“Along the way, I have fallen in love with both the place, and the dynamism of the ecosystem,” Bhageshpur says of Seattle. “I look at this as a place with a lot more upside, a lot more growing opportunity.” He declined to say how many people are now working at the company, only saying that they have “a robust team and we expect to be substantially growing in the next six to nine months.”

Isilon co-founder Sujal Patel
Isilon co-founder Sujal Patel

In some ways, Igneous is a bit like stealthy Seattle startup Qumulo, a Madrona-backed startup led by former Isilon vets vets which emerged on the scene two years ago with a massive $24.5 million funding round. Since then, the Peter Godman-led startup has kept a low profile, sharing few details about what it’s building on its bare bones Web site. (Igneous doesn’t have a Web site yet).

It’s certainly interesting to see some of the entrepreneurial talent from Isilon emerging in Seattle, which could create a wave of cloud-based storage startups.

Helping to fund those companies is Sujal Patel, the co-founder and former CEO of Isilon. Patel, a former RealNetworks employee, founded Isilon in 2000 and at the time he felt as if the ” enterprise storage market was ripe for disruption.”

“Opportunities to transform the enterprise IT landscape are rare, as are those with the technical wherewithal and business acumen to seize them,” Patel tells GeekWire. “I believe that such an opportunity exists for Igneous, and that its leadership team has the depth of experience to carry this vision forward.”

This startup is going to be a fun one to watch, as long as you’ve got a little patience.

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