After being delisted from NASDAQ and filing for Chapter 11, Tintri may have found a savior. Data Direct Networks (DDN) entered into a non-binding letter of intent agreement with Tintri to acquire most of Tintri’s assets. DDN is a well-run company with a long track record of success, and its current product line has almost no overlap with the Tintri product line. If DDN manages the transition well, it could find itself in a position to compete in a broader section of the market than its traditional HPC segment.
What Went Wrong for Tintri
In the crowded midrange storage systems market, Tintri had a unique analytics capability that enabled it to derive excellent performance from hybrid (flash + hard disk) storage systems. The software didn’t necessarily make anything faster it just made sure that the right data was on the proper storage media most of the time. The rest of Tintri’s software is at least on par with its competitors.
What went wrong for Tintri happened long before it went public; it was when the cost delta between all-flash arrays and hybrid arrays became so narrow that an increasing number of customers chose the all-flash option instead of choosing a hybrid system. Since its competitors did not have Tintri’s analytics or its quality of service capabilities, they pushed hard on the idea of all-flash being the better option. Tintri fell into this trap and offered an all-flash array of its own and where possible, it led with the all-flash system, eliminating one of its primary advantages, the optimal use of hard disks in a flash-based storage system.
What DDN Should Do
DDN has excellent high-performance storage systems. It doesn’t need another all-flash array. However, It does require a robust midrange offering, if DDN wants to go after that market. Most midrange data centers also don’t need a high-end all-flash array. If a hybrid system properly manages its hard disk portion, which the Tintri software has shown it can do, midrange data centers can meet all of their performance demands with a hybrid system. Midrange data centers are also far more likely to be concerned with price. The cost savings of a hybrid system versus an all-flash array are still significant and something that DDN should market.
DDN should discontinue the Tintri all-flash array and focus on hybrid. It could make hybrid “cool” again and provide a practical alternative to that market. DDN could also leave the all-flash array in place but not lead with it. Imagine a marketing campaign that stated, “We could sell you an all-flash array, but we don’t want to.”
Tintri makes good products, and we’ve spoken to many delighted Tintri customers. However, as the move to all-flash picked up the pace, the value of Tintri’s analytics diminished. Returning to a hybrid systems focus gives the product line an advantage that few can offer. A hybrid system that seldom suffers a flash tier miss will deliver similar performance to an all-flash array at a fraction of the cost. The hybrid focus strategy also causes almost no conflict with the current DDN product line making for a relatively seamless acquisition.