HGST, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Digital, announced that it will acquire Virident, a company rapidly becoming a resurgent force in the PCIe SSD marketplace. In addition to flash storage hardware Virident was hitting full stride with a line of software solutions that allows flash storage in multiple servers to be aggregated into shared, flash storage pools.
The acquisition comes on the heels of the recent HGST purchases of sTec (June 24th) and Velobit (July 10th) and gives HGST a full lineup of flash-related storage products. This puts HGST in potential competition with Fusion-io as robust suppliers of enterprise flash solutions. Fusion-io has also been in acquisition mode of late, buying NexGen (hybrid storage appliance) to go with their IOTurbine (caching software for VMware environments) acquisition of a few years ago.
Comparing the two companies with their combined assets shows both with strong PCIe SSD offerings but only HGST with drive form-factor SSDs. Both companies have strong caching solutions and both have PCIe SSD aggregation software solutions.
Fusion-io is unique in that it has a SAN based offering with its recent acquisition of NexGen. As we discuss in this video chalktalk with Fusion-io, the NexGen appliance (now called ioControl) provides Fusion-io with a robust shared storage offering.
What’s Next for HGST?
It seems reasonable, especially given their recent spending spree, that HGST may be looking at a shared storage solution like Fusion-io got with ioControl. Available companies include Pure Storage, Tegile, Nimble, Skyera or Nimbus Data. With Pure Storage’s recent private placement of $150 million they seem set for a public offering and Skyera has a fairly sizable investment from Dell. Nimbus has also been adamant in stating that it wants to remain independent. That leaves Nimble and Tegile as primary targets and at least one of them is already OEMing HGST SSD drives.
Storage Swiss Take – A New Class of Enterprise Storage Vendors
What is interesting is that Western Digital, Fusion-io along with SanDisk, Violin Memory who recently went public, and Pure Storage with the above mentioned private placement, and potentially Nimbus Data represent a new wave of storage vendors. They are more than just legacy vendors trying to be “Flash Optimized”, they represent a new breed of storage vendors where flash is at the core of what they do.
We have believed all along that flash was going to be as disruptive to the storage vendor space as it has been to the data center. In the last 30 days we may have just seen the legitimization of six vendors vying for a piece of your data center storage budget.
HGST is the same company that helped to launch the disk drive manufacturers’ Storage Products Association at, of all places, the Flash Memory Summit last month. Seeing them take a dominant position in the flash industry is a testament to their insight and probably a good thing for the storage industry as a whole.