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|Fusion-io parts company with co-founders|
May 9, 2013 - Fusion-io
that its co-founders - David Flynn
(who had been CEO and President) and Rick White (who had
been CMO) have resigned and will pursue future entrepreneurial investing
They will remain members of FIO's board and will
serve in advisory roles for the next 12 months.
Fusion-io's new CEO and
Robison said ""On behalf of the Board and entire Fusion-io
team, I want to thank David and Rick for their significant contributions to the
creation, development and growth of the company. David and Rick's vision as
co-founders has redefined memory technology and had a profound impact on our
industry. Under their leadership, Fusion-io has developed into one of the
world's leading technology companies, helping businesses increase datacenter
efficiency. They played an important role in taking the company public and
developing a strong framework from which Fusion-io can grow to the next level."
comments:- If it's any consolation to you - the news came as a a complete
surprise to me too. Markets don't like surprises - and FIO's founders are very
highly regarded - so the company's shares took a hit.
There are many
articles on the web which speculate about the real reasons for FIO's founders
to end their hands-on roles.
The answer may not be so very
If you look at what's been happening to the company
recently from a financial viewpoint - FIO isn't profitable and its revenue
growth has stopped. Investors have been nervous about this. And it's
natural to ask should FIO be putting more of its management talent onto the
problem of consolidating and expanding business opportunities in the next few
quarters - rather than continuing visionary plans which may take the company to
loftier market peaks in the next 2-3 years?
That needs a
different management skill set than getting to where the company has reached
Another question which you may ask is - is someone going to buy
Fusion-io?. And if so - who would it be?
A couple of years ago when
I first commented on this question I came to the conclusion that the kind of
possible acquirers which would benefit most from such an acquisition - if they
could afford it - would be either a flash memory company which doesn't already
have an enterprise SSD product line or a software company which wants to get
into the SSD platform business.
If you try to look at "possible"
fits from this perspective - that gives you a very short list - none of which
look like "comfortable" fits, however.
- Samsung - in the
But semiconductor and enterprise system cultures are
so different - that chipmakers already have enough problems with marketing
simple "systems" such as drives. The software rich products from the
FIO design stable look like beings from a different planet to a wafer fab
OK - so I don't think
there are any hot candidates out there who would want to buy FIO and who would
know what to do with it. I just wanted to clear that one out of the way to show
how absurd and unlikely it is.
- Microsoft - in
the software category.
(I didn't put
Oracle on this shortlist
because Oracle has already had its fingers burned with one bright hot storage
systems acquisition - and despite a natural fit from one angle - database
acceleration - the prospect of Oracle owning FIO would scare FIO's biggest
Going back to Microsoft - this is a company which has
serious problems of its own - such as making a PC OS that consumers want to
buy. And Microsoft is still failing to understand what makes a desirable phone.
So I think we can rule that out too.
So where are we now with the prospects
for Fusion-io? (The company, its products and its customers and competitors - I
mean - not the share price.)
If you're competing in the enterprise SSD
market there are 3 main product groups in which you would place Fusion-io in any
short list of future top rank competitors. These are:-
first 2 are self explanatory. The 3rd one may need a little more explanation -
and is the subject of a major new article I was working on before the management
changes story broke.
In several recent conversations about the
rackmount SSD market - I have noted that FIO's recent acquisition of NexGen -
when added to its pre-existing IP legacy in SAN rackmount technology - make it
a serious contender in any forward looking shortlist of top 5 most competitive
rackmount SSD vendors. That's a new way of looking at the company for most
people - and the results may not be clear for a few quarters - but the
company has been traveling down this incubator road for some while.
from these various perspectives the competitive outlook for Fusion-io on
Thursday doesn't look materially different to what it was on Monday.
passengers choosing to fly to currently known SSD destinations with
Fusion-io don't need to change their plans.
intrepid explorers hoping to fly FIO to more exotic places may have to
wait a bit longer to see departure times being announced for SSD destinations
which don't yet have runways.
It's natural to feel sadness and regret
that the founders of Fusion-io - who created so much excitement in our
industry have gone to new roles - and from my own point of view I will really
miss the visionary chats we used to have about the long term future of solid
Rick White and David Flynn - built a strong company
which is one of the best known and admired in the SSD industry. Anyone who
assumes that it will be easier to compete with FIO today than it was yesterday
risks a severe battering.
PS - you can read more about FIO's
legacy and many contributions to
in their profile page
here on the mouse site.
I think the most important and long
lasting thing they changed is the fundamental way that computers are sold.
SSDs are now regarded as a "must-have available option" in any new
design of mainstream enterprise server. That change has benefitted the whole SSD
industry and everyone who uses the internet.
One thing which hasn't
changed in the short term - however - is that we'll all still be eagerly
waiting to see what Fusion-io does next.
PS - after publishing the
above I saw this
with Shane Robison on SiliconAngle.com - who said "This
is not a strategy change. It's all about how we grow the company."
a later webcast
Thursday 9am PT - Shane Robison said that big company management skills
were needed to better optimize Fusion-io's business compared with the earlier
growth days of the company. He said that once the board had made the decision
to make the changes in management in detail - which he said had been discussed
in outline as a possibility for a long time before - they decided to announce
it immediately. (As a public company they couldn't prewarn or leak any of this
Editor:- Nevertheless - looking back on these events -
the process of information dissemination from the company - can best be
described as a marketing communications fiasco.
One reader said to me
on Wednesday evening as the panic told hold - "If everything Fusion-io
says in their press release is true - why doesn't it include supporting
quotes from the ex CEO and CMO? - They could have avoided a lot of angst by
OCZ gets award for Windows compatible SQL flash cache
May 8, 2013 - OCZ
that its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator earned the
Best of Interop
award in the data center and storage category.
at CeBIT last February) is a bundled package for Windows servers which
includes an SQL optimized flash caching software appliance which leverages
the low latency of an associated
OCZ PCIe SSD card.
judging committee, comprised of 16 IT editors and analysts who reviewed
nearly 150 entries. See also:-
Seagate's latest pronouncements on SSDs
8, 2013 - "Seagate
is Serious about SSD and Flash Technology."
That's the headline of a new
products overview page mentioned in a recent
release about 3 of the company's newest SSDs.
It's the SAS product which to my way of thinking is the
really new thing here.
Until now if you wanted a
1.8" SSD with a SAS
interface you had to go to
SMART to get
The SAS drives market - which Seagate helped to create - used to be
seen by external commentators as a strategic market for Seagate. (And no
doubt it's still regarded that way by SAS product managers within the company.)
Seagate's tardy entry into the enterprise SSD market (December 2009)
which happened only after many of its own enterprise customers had already
responded to the SSD wake up call by
making their own
arrangements - meant that Seagate's continuing existence as a long term
enterprise drive supplier in a world which was
SSDs was called into question.
Then when Seagate's first
enterprise SSD dance partners (SandForce and
LSI) eloped to
re-emerge as rival competitors about a year ago - Seagate was left in such a
sorry state that some well meaning stakeholders and seld serving investors were
trying to pair the company off in rumor blogs with
STEC (neither of which
were looking for such a hook up).
Instead - as we learned recently -
Seagate found a very suitable match in the PCIe SSD market with Virident.
And it's safe to assume that if they have any children as a couiple they will
look like 2.5"
As to Seagate taking the SSD market seriously - which is
where I began this - you could ask - who doesn't?
To misquote Jane
Austen - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a storage company
in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an SSD product line."
the other hand - I would take Seagate's sentiments about SSDs more seriously if
they had been expressed on http://www.seagate.com instead of on the less
imposing address where it currently resides -
new WD hybrid has SanDisk SSD inside
Editor:- May 7,
2013 - a new 2.5"
from WD -
called WD Black
SSHD (500GB HDD
capacity, 5mm high SATA)
- has a tiny SSD from
- it was
Editor's comments:- SanDisk' contribution to this is
a tiny SSD which they call
iSSD which has
9K/1K R/W IOPS performance and measures 16mm x 20mm x 1.2mm for capacities
upto 16GB. The height budget moves up to 1.85mm for 128GB of flash.
Diablo's new VP Marketing came from OCZ
7, 2013 - Kevin Wagner
who until a few months ago had been VP Enterprise Product Management
at OCZ has moved to
- to become Diablo's VP of Marketing it was
Micron turns up the heat for adoption of 2.5" PCIe SSDs
May 3, 2013 - Micron
it's sampling a new model in the
hot swappable 2.5"
PCIe SSDs market - the
has upto 1.4TB MLC capacity and can deliver 750K R IOPS. Micron specifies
endurance as "50PB of drive life".
Micron is also offering half height, half length PCIe SSDs in the new range -
but to my mind it's the 2.5" drives which are the significant part of this
I wrote about the impact these new drives could have
on traditional PCIe SSDs and
SAS SSDs in an
article 12 months ago.
summarize the main points in that... the new form factor for PCIe will displace
high end SAS SSDs and likely make the 12Gbps SAS drives the last generation of
SAS as "performance drives".
SAS SSDs will in turn replace
SATA SSDs as the
removable drive of choice in traditional legacy fast-enough enterprise
The new 2.5" PCIe SSDs will open up new markets in cost
sensitive incrementally upgradeable fast SSD racks.
At the high end of
the server side accelerated market, however, and particularly in
dark matter data
centers where the rack is seen the replacement unit - I'm sure that good old
PCIe SSD cards and modules will continue to hold their ground - because they
have lower packaging costs and can be designed to be more efficient than smaller
earlier this week - traditional PCIe SSDs will also facing pressure from
memory channel storage SSDs. But MCS won't impact 2.5" PCIe SSDs.
you start selling shares in any particular company - I'm talking here about
market juggling and realignments which will take 2-3 years to have a material
affect on existing market sizes and revenue. These changes won't happen
overnight. And these game changers in the
enterprise SSDs market
aren't taking part in the context of a zero sum game. The enterprise SSD
universe is expanding.
And here's another thing.
Last year I
told Micron's top SSD marketers that they weren't in tune with the needs of
enterprise SSD specifiers - because they had hopelessly slow and antiquated
processes for extracting technical information of the type that serious buyers
They seem to have taken those criticisms on board - because
now you can swim around in the info they've got about their new enterprise SSDs
on their web site - without having to sign NDAs and without waiting weeks to
talk to the person who knows what's missing on the datasheet. Still some details
missing - but it's a vast improvement on what they were doing before.
of you may think it's ironic that it's not Micron who's doing the flash thing
for memory channel SSDs. But bear in mind that semiconductor companies have to
feed the fab. And their priorities are to engage in established markets where
there is already known demand for millions of chips. Big memory companies don't
usually get involved in blue sky system innovation - except in
ORG type wolf packs.
Micron's got its own thing going with hypercube memory. And - as I've
said before - if that flies - it's another gating point for flash (if flash is
still around when that happens).
the challenges facing ULL SSDs
Editor:- May 1, 2013
- On Monday - StorageSearch.com
published a new article - Memory
Channel Storage SSDs - will the new ultra low latency SSD concept fly? -
should you book a seat yet?
Yesterday (Tuesday) I added a bunch
of quotes and links in a sidebar to the article which sample the various
strands of original thinking about the topic of nv as a memory tier (and not
just as fast storage).
Today (Wednesday) I made them easier to find by
placing them at the top of the page - and adding some more notes. ...read the article
I suppose this is a good time to mention that pageviews on the home page of StorageSearch.com
in April 2013 were 26% higher than a year ago.
Which goes to
show that thoughtful SSD readers aren't scared away by content which doesn't
pause every few minutes to explain the difference between an SSD and an
most readers ever really understood what was going on in the hard drives
either - they were just reassuringly familiar - having been
spinning around for a long
In reality a lot of scary stuff was going on inside hard
drives too - but the recent pace of innovation in HDD had been glacially
slow - and the resulting products were stunningly irrelevant to solving the
real urgent needs of advancing progress in the future data driven economy.
more SSD news?
you're looking for more SSD news to get a feel for what the technical issues
are in the SSD market and who's doing what - you can find a summary of key SSD
news stories from the past 1, 2, 3 or upto 18 months - see
the SSD Buyers
Guide - which lists them in reverse order (newest first).
Strategic Transitions in SSD - gives a summary of important changes which
clarified in 2012.
history - also includes hundreds of key SSD stories in a time-line which
stretches from the begininng of SSDs to this year.