Supply-chain disruptions driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated control measures severely disrupted computer hardware production, creating strong demand for cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.
The Chief Executive of Lightbits, an Israel-based technology start-up, Eran Kirzner said the slowdown in supply chains had a dramatic impact on customers’ business. The rise augmented a background increase in demand brought by web 3.0 and the rolling out of metaverses. “Both require low latency, fast access to storage - this is exactly where Lightbits shines.”
Hong Kong investment
Eager to tap this fast-growing demand, which is especially strong in Asia, Lightbits has raised US$42 million in growth capital. New investor Atreides Management led the round, and other investors include the Hong Kong-based founder and chairman of Pacific Century Group (PCG) Richard Li. The round takes funds the company has raised since its 2016 founding to US$100 million.
“In today’s data-driven market, enterprise and data centre customers are increasingly focused on achieving superior performance, scalability, and economics. Lightbits has established itself as a clear leader in disaggregated storage solutions — poised to meet accelerated customer demand with its cloud-native data platform. We are excited to partner with the Lightbits team at a critical stage in the company’s growth trajectory,” said Gavin Baker, Manager Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Atreides Management.
Mr Kirzner said: “To remain competitive, Cloud Service Providers and Enterprise IT organisations who support private clouds have resorted to architect data centres for maximum flexibility and agility while providing services that are fast, resilient and secure. To achieve this, they can no longer rely on legacy storage solutions. What is required is software-defined, disaggregated, scalable, fast storage that offers them the flexibility to store their data on any platform (any hardware vendor) in any cloud (private cloud, edge cloud, and public cloud).
Lightbits invented NVMe/TCP, a low-latency storage system. “In addition, Lightbits offers rich data services with Intelligent Flash Management. It’s a complete cloud data platform that is simple and easy to deploy, while delivering an up to 80% reduction in the total cost of ownership, ultra-low latency, and tens of millions of input-output operations. It affords the end-user flexibility, agility, while reducing their overall operational expenditure and capital expenditure, and a significant advantage to dealing with the overall slowdown and supply chain challenges.”
Noting Mr Li’s investment, Mr Kirzner said: “We have numerous customer deployments in the Asia-Pacific and we are experiencing increased engagements with cloud service providers, edge cloud providers, fintechs, telcos, and e-commerce organisations. This latest investment helps us to accelerate customer adoption in the region and enable our customers to modernise their data centre with Lightbits technology.”
“Hong Kong is a great location to expand our business, many of the fintech and banking customers there see value in Lightbits technology.”
“Lightbits overcomes supply-chain induced challenges because our solution is software-only and runs on any hardware; we minimise risk when hardware supply chains are compromised. At the same time our disaggregated, scalable, high-performance cloud data platform accelerates their application performance and can reduce their total cost of operations.”
He said Lightbits needed to spread its operations across the world, concentrating in areas of high demand, because peripheral clouds and edge clouds have a critical impact on the overall end customer experience - this is true in use-cases such as content delivery networks, gaming, financial services and internet of things applications.
“Also, considerations related to data locality, security and local regulations need to be considered. These requirements necessitate a global presence, including Asia,” Mr Kirzner said.
Mr Li’s investment came against the background of the Hong Kong-Israel R&D Cooperation Programme, a bilateral framework providing financial support from governments for collaborative industrial R&D projects between Hong Kong and Israeli companies. The scheme was launched in June this year and is managed by Hong Kong’s Innovation & Technology Commission and the Israel Innovation Authority.
The Consulate General of Israel matches Hong Kong companies with relevant Israeli cutting-edge new technology that can benefit their business. Hong Kong, being a global financial and services centre and a connector with Mainland China, is Israel’s natural partner, especially in the collaboration of health care, food tech, environment, property tech and fintech. The Israel-Hong Kong trade has reached US$3 billion last year.