Avere announced this afternoon that they’ve closed a Series E round of $14 million, bringing their total funding to a cool $97 million. Existing investors Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and Western Digital Capital all re-upped, always a good sign.

But the twist? Google Inc. joined the round.

The StorageMojo take
This makes perfect sense for Google and Avere. Avere’s products front-end legacy filers, extending theirs useful lives, with load-balancing, reduced management, and what is essentially a very smart cache. Front-ending the cloud is a logical extension of their business.

That’s in contrast to NetApp and Dell/EMC, whose end-game for their cloud support seems to be death by a thousand cuts. NetApp would be wise to buy Avere in order to take control of the process that customers are already undergoing: getting rid of filers in favor of the cloud.

Given that $14 million isn’t a huge E round for a hardware company, I’m expecting an IPO, perhaps even this year. The Avere team has done a commendable job, and a rich buyout or an IPO is well-deserved.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.