Cleversafe: A Complete History of the Data Storage Pioneer

As you dive into this guide, you’ll discover the complete story of Cleversafe – an enterprise data storage innovator founded in 2004 that upended traditional approaches before being acquired by IBM. We’ll explore Cleversafe‘s origins, its revolutionary dispersed network architecture that supercharged data security and scalability, key innovations like dsNet software, and the ultimate IBM deal cementing its storage legacy. Let’s get started uncovering the tech pioneer Cleversafe!


Founded by entrepreneur Chris Gladwin in 2004, Cleversafe created breakthrough object storage software for more secure and reliable enterprise data infrastructure.

Its flagship dsNet dispersed storage network enabled infinitely scalable, hack-resistant data storage by encrypting and dispersing data across many servers. If some servers failed, data stayed resilient.

Cleversafe‘s technology transformed data center architecture and cloud capabilities for firms like Motorola. Rapid success attracted over $100 million in funding before culminated IBM acquired the firm for $1.3 billion in 2015.

Even after being folded into IBM, Cleversafe‘s distributed data innovations power leading storage solutions today – cementing its disruptive impact on the industry.

The Data Crisis That Spurred a Visionary Breakthrough

Chris Gladwin knew data storage pain points well before launching Cleversafe. As an executive at early digital music provider MusicNow, he managed technology powering expansive song libraries and streaming services.

MusicNow‘s systems constantly battled to handle surging data assets. Servers frequently crashed. Data overfilled storage capacity. Security threats like hacking loomed.

Gladwin realized these data challenges would only intensify as internet adoption spread more content online. Traditional data centers couldn‘t keep pace with soaring data volume, variety and velocity.

Gladwin envisioned radically new architecture where data dispersed across many inexpensive servers – increasing scalability, resilience and security. He founded Cleversafe in 2004 to revolutionize enterprise data storage by turning this breakthrough concept into reality.

The Dispersed Storage Breakthrough

At Cleversafe, Gladwin developed the dispersed storage network – or dsNet. This groundbreaking system works by:

  1. Encrypting data for security
  2. Slicing encrypted data into segments
  3. Distributing data slices across many inexpensive servers

This distributed approach brought monumental advantages:

Traditional Data StorageCleversafe Dispersed Network
Constrained scalability from single serversVirtually unlimited scalability by adding servers
Single point of failureData dispersed across servers – no single point of failure
Data loss if servers crashData accessible even if multiple servers fail

For companies struggling with exponential data growth in the 2000s internet boom, Cleversafe‘s dispersed architecture was revolutionary. It uniquely delivered the scalability, resilience and security needed for the future.

Funding & Growth Fuel Breakthrough Innovation

Cleversafe productized dsNet into an on-premise enterprise storage system and cloud storage platform. Their flagshp dispersed network storage system was dubbed SecureSlice.

The firm‘s early funding came from the In-Q-Tel venture capital arm of the CIA – attracted to dsNet‘s security advances. Further investment came from Motorola, NEA and OCA ventures – totaling over $100 million by 2015.

This financing fueled mass product innovation throughout the 2000s. Cleversafe earned over 300 patents covering novel encryption, data slicing and distributed storage capabilities as it enhanced dsNet.

By 2010, Cleversafe offered complete turnkey storage solutions for companies to roll out petabyte-scale dispersed infrastructure. The firm also launched its own dsNet-powered cloud storage service highlighting the platform‘s benefits.

Cleversafe had firmly established itself as a leader bringing dispersed network storage into the enterprise mainstream. Businesses now had a proven path to manage surging data volumes.

Legal Sparring to Establish Dispersed Network Leadership

Cleversafe wasn‘t without rivals seeking to capitalize on dispersed network architecture advantages. A competitor named Amplidata emerged in 2008 marketing BitSpread – their own dispersed object storage system.

In 2009, Cleversafe took legal action asserting Amplidata‘s technology infringed on several Cleversafe patents related to dispersed storage infrastructure.

A multi-year legal battle ensued before Amplidata prevailed – the court ultimately ruled BitSpread avoided violating Cleversafe‘s specific data distribution patents.

While it lost in court, the case underlined To both companies, establishing intellectual property dominance over this breakthrough storage architecture was pivotal for commercial success in a data-driven world.

Though unsuccessful in court, Cleversafe remained the market‘s dispersed storage leader. And firms recognized that settling dispersed network IP claims was critical before fully monetizing the field‘s immense potential.

Skyrocketing Growth Attracts ultimate IBM Acquisition

By 2013, Cleversafe was on fire. With over $100 million in funding, the firm was the world‘s #2 largest object storage vendor in stored data volume. It offered corporations turnkey infrastructure to securely scale to handle petabyte storage needs.

Cleversafe looked to widen its market lead by hiring new CEO John Morris to spearhead aggressive sales and marketing pushes. The move paid off handsomely – within two years, Cleversafe‘s valuation rocketed from $50 million to over $1 billion.

This surging growth turned heads across the tech sector. Ultimately In 2015, after 11 years of transformative data storage innovation Cleversafe agreed to sell to IBM for $1.3 billion. they recognized Cleversafe‘s industry-topping dispersed capabilities could anchor more secure and scalable storage offerings.

As an IBM asset, Cleversafe‘s dispersed platform became the backbone of new IBM Cloud Object Storage services rollouts.

Cleversafe‘s Lasting Data Legacy

While Cleversafe‘s run as an independent pioneer ended after 11 years, its breakthrough data contributions reshaped storage forever. By proving distributed architecture’s advantages, Cleversafe paved the way for a wave of distributed startups like Storj Labs.

And today, Cleversafe‘s technology still anchors IBM‘s cloud, enabling far more resilient and scalable data infrastructure for modern workloads. Over 75 patents Cleversafe earned through foundational dispersed network R&D drive storage innovation even now.

So while no longer operating alone, Cleversafe‘s innovations irrevocably transformed enterprise data storage – ensuring improved security, accessibility and manageability as data volumes explode exponentially. Chris Gladwin‘s founding vision powerfully carries on.

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