Even hard drive makers are finding it tough to resist the allure of flash storage.

Skyera Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of all-SSD (solid-state drive) storage arrays, revealed that Western Digital Capital co-invested in a big round of Series B financing valued at $51 million. According to the companies, Western Digital had previously served as Skyera’s first outside investor.

The funds are going a long way toward helping Skyera mainstream its SSD arrays. “The backing of Western Digital has enabled us to ramp our business across marketing, sales and engineering, which has been instrumental in creating the industry’s most innovative solid-state solution,” said Skyera CEO Radoslav Danilak in a press statement.

While it may seem unusual for a hard drive manufacturer to invest in a flash storage pure play, it’s not the first time the company has dabbled in SSD-based tech.

Last May, via its HGST subsidiary, which Western Digital finally finished acquiring in March 2012, the company rolled out the industry’s first SSD with a 12 Gbps serial-attached SCSI (SAS) interface. Now, according to Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan, funding SSD specialist Skyera is part of an overarching strategy of addressing a shifting storage landscape that favors fast data access and capture technologies.

“We see companies like Skyera as offering a dramatic improvement over traditional approaches to emerging storage challenges,” said Milligan in a company statement. “We will continue to support innovation by collaborating with customers and partners, and investing in companies who are addressing today’s most exciting storage opportunities.”

Skyera’s Skyhawk arrays employ purpose-built controllers, adaptive error-correcting code (ECC) and proprietary algorithms to squeeze enterprise-class performance and longevity from consumer-grade MLC flash chips. Prior to its launch in August, Tony Barbagallo, vice president of marketing for Skyera, told InfoStor that his company’s hardware is an “all flash enterprise storage array that is at a price point for mainstream enterprise adoption.”

“At the price point we’re hitting, our competitors are the entrenched spinning disk guys,” added Barbagallo. The company boasts that with prices that dip below $3 per gigabyte — $0.99 with deduplication and compression — Skyhawk is ready to take over for hard disk drive systems.

Cozying up to a big hard drive provider like Western Digital could help accelerate those plans.

“With our SkyHawk family of enterprise solid-state storage systems we are witnessing the next era of solid-state storage and I strongly believe that having a close working relationship with Western Digital, the world’s top disk drive vendor, is invaluable as we set out to reshape the storage landscape,” said Danilak.

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