Dr. Vishal Misra, former Ph.D. student of Professor Weibo Gong of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, is the founder, CTO, and self-proclaimed “Chief Cheerleader” of Infinio Systems, which won the award for “2013 Start-up to Watch” on September 12 at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Awards (MTLA) Gala. This award recognizes a new and innovative technology company (two years or younger) that demonstrates the potential for significant growth and positive change to its market or industry. The award was determined by the tech community through a public online voting process. MTLA is the Commonwealth’s most prestigious tech awards program, dubbed the “Academy Awards” of tech, attended by more than 700 company executives.

Infinio began in 2011 when Misra, who is also a professor of computer science at Columbia University, and his fellow researchers saw the potential for their work to solve real-world problems. He enlisted experienced software industry entrepreneurs and top-notch engineers (including co-founders Arun Agarwal and Dan Rubenstein) to make that vision a reality.

As Misra’s company describes itself, “At Infinio, we believe that it's important to build our company as carefully as we're building our product. We're not trying to follow a new fad or ride the latest trend. Instead, we have consciously made the investments necessary to offer a valuable solution and great customer experience at a low cost. A solution that is easy to try, easy to install, and easy to buy. Based in Cambridge, Mass., we’re building solutions that improve the data storage performance of virtualized environments. We separate the problem of storage performance from the issue of storage capacity, allowing you to buy performance, not disk.”

Infinio’s main product, Infinio Accelerator, lets you separate performance from capacity. For a fraction of the price of hardware-based products, Accelerator offers a software-only solution that extends the performance life of the NAS you already have. Accelerator is a virtual appliance that uses server-side caching to minimize the I/O traffic load on central storage.

It works without any additional hardware – no SSD required – instead using just 8 GB of idle memory from each ESXi server to create a pooled, deduplicated cache in memory.

“Our headquarters is in the heart of the Kendall Square tech startup scene,” reports the company website, “where we’ve hired some of the top talent that helped drive hugely successful companies including Endeca, NetApp, Netezza, and Veeam. Our engineers are from Columbia, MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Princeton. Infinio enjoys strong financial backing from tier-one venture capitalists including Highland Capital Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.”

“The annual Leadership Awards program was designed to shine the spotlight on great technologies and leadership in our region,” said Tom Hopcroft, president and CEO of  the Mass Technology Leadership Council. “This year’s finalists are an incredible group, representing technologies across the sector. It’s our honor to recognize their hard work and innovative spirits – two qualities that remain core to the success of Massachusetts’ vibrant tech community.”

The judging model for the awards program included 55 executives, investors, analysts, media, and thought leaders who participated in the finalist selection process. (September 2013)