Solid state or flash technology as a permanent storage medium has been around for some years now. However with the activity occurring over the last 12 months, we can say that 2013 marked the arrival of flash as a mainstream technology, accessible to more businesses than ever. Looking back over the last 12 months we saw lots of product activity, IPOs, acquisitions and legal wrangling.
EMC finally got XtremIO to GA (general availability) – some 18 months after they acquired the company in May 2012 for a rumoured $430m. Violin Memory and Nimble Systems both completed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and floated on the stock market with mixed results. Violin’s share price dropped to almost a third of the flotation figure on poor results leading to the sacking of their CEO. Nimble on the other hand (who use flash as an accelerator to disk) have seen their share price rise significantly since the opening day of trading.
In June 2013, HP released an all-flash version of their 3PAR under the name 7450 and subsequently revised the code in December 2013 to boost IOPS by 63% and Dell release the all-flash SC220 array based on the Compellent platform. Both of these vendors have followed Hitachi’s lead and used their existing storage platforms as the basis for their flash products. NetApp released an upgraded flash array, the EF550, based on their Engenio acquisition, ahead of the custom build FlashRay, expected in 2014.
There were multiple acquisitions in the flash space; Western Digital were the most aggressive, acquiring STEC, Virident and Velobit, adding flash hardware and software to their portfolio. Violin acquired GridIron systems to provide customers a way to measure the value of flash on existing disk arrays and create a flash “on-ramp”. Fusion-io acquired Nexgen and used this technology to develop their hybrid ioControl array, mixing disk and PCIe SSD storage. Finally Whiptail, an all flash startup was acquired by Cisco.
We also shouldn’t forget that more money poured into the flash market, with Pure Storage announcing an additional funding round of $150m and their intention to take on EMC. This generated a lawsuit between the two