Software defined storage, like its networking counterpart, is emerging as the next big thing in enterprise IT. And venture capitalists have taken notice.

Nexenta Systems, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based maker of software defined storage solutions, today announced that the company had raised $24 million in Series D funding. Four Rivers Group led the round — which the company described as over-subscribed — with backing from several other VC firms, including Menlo Ventures, TransLink Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures.

Nexenta is a provider of software that works on commodity hardware and allows organizations to piece together enterprise-grade storage infrastructures while avoiding vendor lock-in. It’s an “open storage” approach anchored by the company’s NexentaStor platform.

Last year, Nexenta former CEO Evan Powell told InfoStor, “Traditional legacy vendors, such as EMC and NetApp, require that enterprises and agencies buy pricey hardware every time they need to expand storage capacity, which is unsustainable for many businesses, particularly with the advent of big data.”

NexentaStor supports inline deduplication, unlimited snapshots and cloning with no limits on file size. The company’s platform integrates with practically any virtualized environment.

According to the firm, NexentaStor can save IT organizations 70 percent and 80 percent over the proprietary solutions offered by legacy vendors.

“It’s enterprise-class storage software that works on any industry-standard hardware. Essentially, we are doing to the storage industry what Linux and Intel did to the proprietary, cost-prohibitive server market,” said Powell.

Today, Powell has taken over the role of chief strategy officer. Mark Lockareff has been appointed as the new CEO and Bridget Warwick joined as CMO.

The fresh infusion of capital will be used to fund the company’s next stage of growth, which will follow a year of big milestones for the company. Over the past 12 months, NexentaStor has crossed the 5,000 customer deployment mark. “Total storage under management now exceeds 660PB,” boasted the company, adding that it helped spark “an estimated $400 million in hardware storage sales for its reseller partners.”

Nexenta joins a growing list of software defined storage firms that have attracted funds from the VC community.

In October, GridStore raised $12.5 million in Series A financing for its scale-out storage approach that is aimed at midsized businesses. Palo Alto, Calif-based ScaleIO banked $12 million in December for its virtual SAN technology.

VMware opted to buy its way into the market. On Feb. 12, the EMC subsidiary snapped up Virsto for its software defined approach to virtual storage. The terms of that deal remain undisclosed.

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