VC funds in storage

VCs in SSDs and storage

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor StorageSearch.com

Looking for a VC? - that's why I originally started this directory because I was getting so many questions from company founders in the days before there were so many specialist investment sites which make this type of search easier.

Nowadays I get just as many questions from investors and VCs too - who are trying to understand the SSD market and who are prepared to gamble hundreds of millions of dollars (and sometimes the budgets in these conversations have run to billions) on the future success of companies in the SSD ecosystem.

My time budget is limited - but if you have interesting questions I will try to direct you to resources which will help you - or if there's a quick answer - give you one directly.

I talk to hundreds of companies in the SSD market - and thousands of smart readers in the SSD ecosystem. That helps me create better thought leading content for my readers.

How much investment does it take to achieve something big in the SSD market?

A couple of years ago - if you were a big company wanting to get into the SSD marke by an acquisition or strategic investment then a budget somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion would have seemed like plenty.

It still wouldn't have secured your long term future 2 to 3 years after you spent that money - but that's another story. It would have been enough to get you in the game.

And if you were the founder of an SSD start up - then upto a few years ago you could make a lot of noise for just a few hundred million dollars.

Today - if you're in a big company in a traditional market - and hoping to do something equally big in the SSD market - then $1 billion may not be enough - but $5 billion may be too much.

On the other hand there are still some small SSD companies operating in niche markets - which seem to be able to run along for years funded by profitable customers. (Until their markets get big enough for all the competitors to notice.)

Why's this SSD market so crazy and so difficult to understand?

Each time I'm asked that question - then I realize - as I look back over my answers over a period of time - the answers seem to be more complicated.

But there are answers - and they are all rational - if you're looking from the right perspective and have the background to see how parts of the old picture joined up, how they had to change so as to reach a critical mass for further advances - and then how they will evolve yet again.

It's more like a series of disjointed spiral steps - like ascending a lighthouse - than a single getting from here to there thing.

And if you've ever climbed up the steps in a lighthouse - you'll kow that not everyone who starts out has the stamina (or will) to get to the top.

For most people it's much easier to understand the broad sweep of the SSD market - and how it compares to previous disruptions in the electronics market in the past 40 years or so - than it is to understand the detailed cause of every little twisty thing along the way. Because a frustrating thing about the SSD market (for some people) is that something which was important in one year - seems to be much less important (or even useless information) as soon as 1 or 2 years after.

But for many of us in the SSD ecosystem (who think we understand where our own local stairs lead to) there's nowhere else we would rather be.


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SSD ad - click for more info





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The enterprise SSD story...

why's the plot so complicated?

and was there ever a missed opportunity in the past to simplify it?
the golden age of enterprise SSDs





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SSD ad - click for more info





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"We've past the no turning back point. "
Hard drives in an SSD world





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I was talking to an end user whose organization has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on EMC storage. They'd love to decouple themselves and benefit from modern lower cost flash.

But the flash marketers in startups aren't doing those kinds of conversations.

For many of them a single customer like that is bigger than their whole business plan.
"compared to EMC" - the unreal positioning of AFA startups





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"With SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv channels on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing."
Zsolt Kerekes - editor StorageSearch.com in a SSD news story - June 2014 - re CacheIO.





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funding stories from the news archive
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Netlist IPOs for next phase of SCM DIMM wars
Editor:- August 22, 2017 - It's been an eventful past 30 days for Netlist with a judicial reconsideration of the merits of their memory bus load patent more inf (pdf), demonstration of their Hybridimm (with the 1st generation said to be configurable with 256-512GB NAND + 8-16GB DRAM) and pricing of its IPO to raise $4.5 million.

See also:- SCM DIMM wars news and stories
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Time is money. But each month that the sale of Toshiba Memory is delayed takes the memory market closer to the next correction and a lower price.
tensions in the timing - SSD news (May 15, 2017)
See also:- Toshiba's forced memory sale - timeline
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Liqid gets $10 million in Series A funding for PCIe fabric management platform
Editor:- May 10, 2017 - Liqid today announced it has secured $10 million in Series A funding led by Marker Hill Capital. Along with previous seed funding from Kingston Technology, Phison Electronics, ABR Capital Management and DH Capital, the company has now raised $20 million
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SMART files for IPO
Editor:- May 1, 2017 - the parent company of SMART Modular Technologies today announced that it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") relating to a proposed initial public offering of its common stock.

SMART has applied to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol "SGH."
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Tegile gets another $33 million funding
Editor:- April 11, 2017 - Tegile today announced $33 million in additional funding which was led by Western Digital and current investors such as Meritech Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, and Cross Creek Capital. With this financing, Tegile has raised a total of $178 million to date.
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Google joins investors in Avere Systems
Editor:- March 21, 2017 - Avere Systems today announced the closing of a $14 million Series E funding with participation from existing investors Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and Western Digital Capital and new investor Google Inc.

The new investment brings Averes total funds raised to $97 million, and will be used to expand the companys hybrid cloud product offerings so that more organizations can easily take advantage of the public cloud.

Editor's comments:- A year ago Avere announced it had been named "Google Cloud Platform Technology Partner of the Year" for 2015.
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Another $75 million to support Kaminario's outlook
Editor:- January 10, 2017 - Kaminario today announced it has secured $75 million in a new round of financing, bringing the company's total funding to $218 million.

The company which is privately owned and doesn't disclose revenue says "Hundreds of customers rely on Kaminario K2 to power their mission critical applications and safeguard their digital ecosystem."

Editor's comments:- Kaminario has changed the internal make up of its flash drives (form factors, interfaces and components) in its arrays many times and has said in the past that its systems are based on an SDS model.

Today's news of continuing investment in the company seems to be a bet that whatever the consolodated enterprise memory systems market of the future might look like any vendor which can grow its sales through multiple transitions of raw technology uncertainty is valued.

SSD symmetries article
SSD symmetries
In June 2012 - when writing about Kaminario's long range philosophy about the SSD market I said they were a rare example of a systems company which had good roadmap symmetry (having an architecture and software which was not closely tied to the advantages of any particular memory type or SSD form factor - but which could plausibly leverage future market improvements in SSDs with smaller bumps than vendors who had over optimized their systems to leverage transient technology spikes).

This is as much about choosing the customers, applications and segments as designing the business plan. Because some customer segments are so price and performance sensitive that only well adapted memory systems can compete and sell in such applications.

It always comes back to marketing in the end.
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Nantero has amassed $110 million funding for NRAM
Editor:- December 8, 2016 - Nantero today announced the closing of an over $21 million financing round bringing the total invested in the company to over $110 million.

Nantero currently has more than a dozen partners and customers in the consumer electronics, enterprise systems, and semiconductor industries actively working on NRAM. The new funding will enable the company to support these partners in bringing multiple products into the market, while also enabling new customers to begin development.

A later blog - NRAM set to spark a 'holy war' among memory technologies (January 12, 2017 on ComputerWorld) discusses the 16 years history of NRAM and quotes a report from BCC which said that NRAM now has the potential for mass customization.

See also:- 14 years of "MRAM will soon replace flash"
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series C for Diablo's Memory1 and DMX software
Editor:- August 2, 2016 - Diablo Technologies today announced it has secured $37 million across 2 phases of an oversubscribed round of Series C financing.

New investors Genesis Capital and GII Tech Ventures joined the second phase of the round, along with follow-on investments from Battery Ventures, BDC Capital, Celtic House Venture Partners, Hasso Plattner Ventures and ICV.

Editor's comments:- that's kind of interesting - but much more interesting from my perspective was what I learned in a 1 hour conversation with the company last week about the software for their Memory1 (flash as RAM) product. ...read more in SSD software news
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Mangstor gets another $5 million funding
Editor:- July 15, 2016 - Mangstor has raised another $5 million in funding according to a report in the Austin Business Journal.
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new funding for endurance stretching NVMdurance
Editor:- March 29 , 2016 - NVMdurance recently announced it has completed a $2.5 million Series A round of financing. Existing investors New Venture Partners, ACT Venture Capital, Enterprise Ireland and NDRC have invested bringing total funding to $2.77 million.

"This financing builds on an exceptional year from NVMdurance which saw its first customer announcement with Altera (now part of Intel)" said Steve Socolof of New Venture Partners LLC. "The NVMdurance software increases the number of program-erase cycles in Altera's FPGA-based storage reference design by up to 7x times compared to existing NAND flash implementations."

Editor's comments:- NVMdurance says the power behind its endurance stretching IP is the use of offline machine learning software that automatically learns the optimal parameter settings for the NAND device.

See also:- There was a young lady called Prudence, Was worried 'bout flash's endurance
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Pivot3 closes $55 million funding round
Editor:- March 15, 2016 - Pivot3 today announced it has closed a $55 million equity and bank financing round funded by Argonaut Private Equity and S3 Ventures.

Among other things Pivot3 will use the funding to integrate the NexGen QoS capabilities with Pivot3s leading hyper-converged, highly usable capacity, fault tolerant solutions.
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more funding and a new CEO for Diablo
editor:- January 12, 2016 - Diablo Technologies today announced it has secured an additional $19 million in Series C funding - which will be used to further accelerate customer deployments via expansion of sales, applications support and R&D.

In addition, the company announced that industry veteran Mark Stibitz will serve as the company's Chairman and CEO. He brings extensive business management, global market, and product development experience from across start-up and public companies including Anobit, Elliptic Technologies, PMC-Sierra, Agere Systems and Lucent/AT&T-Microelectronics.

Diablo's co-founder and previous CEO, Riccardo Badalone, has been appointed the technology-centric and customer-facing role of Chief Product Officer.

Editor's comments:- Diablo needed a corporate adrenaline shot.

While the company last year had accustomed its pace to the slow lane timetable of judges and courts - competitors from many different quarters fired up their own alternative smoke and mirrors DIMM war flags of convenience. This has diverted attention away from Diablo which no longer has the sheen and lure of first mover advantage.
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Samsung invests in Netlist
Editor:- November 19, 2015 - Netlist today revealed how it's going to enter the storage class memory SSD DIMM wars market. This by way of a 5 year joint development and license with Samsung which also brings to the table $23 million of funding. The companies expect to sample products in 2016.

Editor's comments:- 2015 was a signficant kick-start year for the server memory market. Retiring and retiering enterprise DRAM was one of the three big SSD ideas of the year.
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Mangstor gets $10 million series B funding for fastest NVMe flash SSDs
Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Mangstor today announced it has closed $10 million in Series B funding which will be used to fuel growth in sales and engineering and business development.

Editor's comments:- last week I had a 90 minutes one on one with Trevor Smith CEO and co-founder of Mangstor which we spent talking about gaps in the enterprise SSD market, Mangstor's technology and the competitive positioning of its PCIe SSDs and systems. You can see some of our discussion topics in their profile page.
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Crossbar gets $35 million series D funding
Editor:- September 14, 2015 - Crossbar today announced it has completed a $35 million Series D funding round bringing total investment to $85 million to date.

Crossbar plans to use the funds to continue the commercial ramp of its RRAM NVM memory technology which is based on a simple device structure using CMOS friendly materials and standard manufacturing processes. It can be stacked in 3D, making it possible to combine logic and memory onto a single chip at the latest technology node.

Crossbar is currently working with beta customers to bring products to market in 2016.
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what can we learn from Pure Storage's IPO filing?
Editor:- August 14, 2015 - Pure Storage needs more funds to continue its current growth strategy in the rackmount SSD market.

The reasons become clear in the details revealed in the FORM S-1 which the company registered recently with the SEC for an IPO.

One interpretation is that the company's R&D and sales and marketing costs have been disproportionately high relative to their revenue - judged by steady state market standards. However, if you choose to assume that the company's revenue will continue to grow rapidly - then these front end loaded losses are not dissimilar to what we have seen in many previous enterprise SSD IPOs.

Interesting things which emerge from Pure's S1.
  • Pure Storage's revenue in the year ending January 31, 2015 was just under $155 million.
  • Pure Storage has over 1,100 customers. And coincidentally - 1,100 employees. (Is 1 to 1 a sustainable ratio?)

    Maybe because of that Pure has a good story to tell about repeat business - although warns that this is based on a short history of 27 months of selling systems and that things could change.
  • silliest statement in the S-1:- "We have pioneered the all-flash array category..."
  • most profound statement in the S-1:- "The market for all-flash storage products is rapidly evolving, which makes it difficult to forecast customer adoption rates and demand for our products."
Investors make decisions based on all kinds of criteria and sometimes these don't make sense to anyone else - or even to the same person when looking back later. So I'm not going to speculate on the gambling aspects of the IPO.

Instead this is a useful opportunity to remind you that in the timeframe of the next 3 to 5 years there will be a great deal of market change and consolidation in the enterprise flash array market for reasons and with possible transformation paths which I wrote about in a recent article.

So if I'm trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of how a company like Pure Storage might morph and survive into that kind of future market my guesses would hinge around these factors:-
  • hardware:- companies like Pure (and most others too) will be buying all their hardware boxes from 3rd parties in the future. Pure's hardware IP is minimal today. But this doesn't matter so much.
  • software and marketing:- these are the things which will matter.

    Pure has demonstrated that it can sell systems - although it's hardly unique in that. And while Pure is currently a small and costly sales channel compared to the rest of the market it competes with - some longer established competitors are much worse.

    So the question is - can its software (its real core asset) stand up competitively compared to new upcoming generations of industry standard enterprise flash management software which will become the norm?

    And an equally important question related to software - is what proportion of the future flash array market will actually need to be backwards compatible with legacy architectures?

    That after all is the main point of Pure's business model today.

    So you might think about scaling back down the IDC numbers mentioned in the S-1 or look at the detail or - better still - completely disregard them if you're looking at TAM for Pure style flash arrays.
Of course I'm posing these questions knowing that reliable answers are unknowable. But despite all the uncertainty the beauty of the competitive capitalist free market system is that useful stuff still gets done and when companies become publicly owned the market provides real time feedback of what investors think.
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Virtium gets growth investment
Editor:- August 5, 2015 - Virtium today announced it has received an (undisclosed amount) growth investment from L Squared Capital Partners which the company says "will be used to enhance Virtiums product portfolio and strengthen its application engineering and SSD firmware development teams."

Editor's comments:- In the past year or so Ive spoken to a bunch of investors who said they were looking at industrial SSD companies.

I can't tell you who they were or if this was one of them. But the general impression I got was this.

Adding together a lot of small rational investments in customized long term relationship markets like industrial SSDs is an alternative strategy to gambling on a small number of risky big technology bets.

The big bets are risky because bigger monolithic market opportunities for standard products attract and suck in more competitors - which - with low entry barriers and customer churn - can tend to rapidly invalidate the initial investment assumptions.
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Nantero gets $31 million funding for 300º C nvram
Editor:- June 2, 2015 - Nantero today announced a $31 million Series E financing round for its NRAM technology which the company says is scalable to below 5nm and which has >1,000 years retention at 85 C or more than 10 years at 300 C.
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Hedvig has $30 million to fix broken SDS market
Editor:- June 1, 2015 - Hedvig - which operates in the SDS market - today announced an $18 million Series B funding round (bringing the company's total funding to date upto $30 million).

Hedvig's founder - Avinash Lakshman - who is credited with building some of the most successful distributed systems in the world, including Amazon Dynamo, the foundation of the NoSQL movement, and Apache Cassandra for Facebook said - "Weve identified the potential in a broken and fragmented storage market, and are not only looking to bring software-defined storage mainstream, but fundamentally change how companies store and manage data.
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Tegile gets another $70 million funding
Editor:- May 27, 2015 - Tegile today announced it has closed a $70 million Series D funding round bringing the companys total capital raised to $117 million.

3 new investors, Capricorn Investment Group, Cross Creek Advisors and Pine River Capital Management, join existing investors August Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Western Digital and SanDisk to fund the round.

Since shipping its first hybrid storage array in 2012 Tegile says it has deployed more than 1,500 systems.
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Coho adds all flash SSD nodes to its hybrid mix
Editor:- May 20, 2015 - Coho Data today announced it has closed $30 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to nearly $67 million.

The round was led by March Capital Partners, with additional participation from HP Ventures and Intel Capital as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Ignition Partners.

Coho Data also announced the general availability of its first all-flash storage node, the DataStream 2000f a 2U server based system which uses Intel's P3600 2.5" NVMe SSDs and conventional SATA SSDs.

Coho says that using a judicious mix of its variously populated SSDservers (which includes micro-tiered hybrid systems as well as the new pure SSD nodes) "empowers customers to efficiently support any application at any scale, all from a "single pane of glass" management interface, and all at less than $0.10/GB usable per month."
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Liqid gets seed funding for NVMe related IP?
Editor:- May 20, 2015 - Liqid today announced that it has secured $5.7 million in seed funding led by Kingston Technology, Phison Electronics, ABR Capital Management, and additional investments aggregated by DH Capital.

The financing round will be used to advance research and development as well as to help accelerate time to market.
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Infinidat gets $150 million series B funding for high availability petabyte scale hybrid storage
Editor:- April 29, 2015 - Infinidat (which operates in the petabyte scale hybrid storage appliance market) today announced a $150 million series B investment led by TPG Growth - which brings the companys total funding to $230 million.
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Western Digital invests in Skyera's MRAM supplier
Editor:- January 26, 2015 - Western Digital's investment unit was among the investors in a $29 million series B funding round in Everspin Technologies announced today.

Phill LoPresti President and CEO of Everspin said "With a leading worldwide foundry and storage customer participating in Everspins Series B investment round, the entire industry spectrum is acknowledging ST-MRAM as the leading contender to drive beyond the limits of current mainstream memory."

Editor's comments:- Everspin's MRAM is one tier of the non volatile caching technology used in Skyera's rackmount SSD systems.

Western Digital recently bought Skyera - and my guess is that this investment in Everspin is to take out some of the risk of future availability of these memory parts at a time when an assured supply at higher volume may soon be needed.
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Kaminario gets another $53 million funding
Editor:- December 2, 2014 - Kaminario today announced it has closed an oversubscribed $53 million financing round, bringing total raised capital to $128 million. Kaminario says it will use the new investment to accelerate business growth.

Editor's comments:- Kaminario rose 3 places compared to the previous quarter - in the recently published Top SSD Companies in Q3 2014.
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SolidFire gets another $82 million funding
Editor:- October 7, 2014 - SolidFire today announced it has closed an $82 million Series D round of funding, bringing its total funding to $150 million.

New investor Greenspring Associates led the round along with a major sovereign wealth fund, with participation from current investors NEA, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures and Valhalla Partners. SolidFire will use the additional funds to extend its global reach.

Editor's comments:- The basic building blocks of SolidFire's SSD systems are 1U iSCSI rackmount SSDs which include 10x 2.5" SSDs. At that level it's the same as 100 or so other competing systems.

If you want fibre channel access - you add a special 1U adapter rack to the native IP array. So it's expensive - but keeps the unit costs of the most common building blocks down - compared to including native unified storage in each rack. So in the case of a big installation - it's a reasonable cost optimization tradeoff.

A key difference is SolidFire's software architecture and the fact they use a big controller architecture type of RAID - which they call "no-RAID".

In SolidFire's no-RAID (which is really big RAID) - the data is more widely dispersed across the drive population than in classical (small architecture) RAID.

The effect is much less disruption to data access and consistent performance when a drive fails - because SolidFire's software can manage upto about 100 racks as a raw storage resource (1,000 SSD drives) - so the impact of a single drive down is small. Users also have a high degree of flexibility as to how they micro manage different virtualized segments of storage to meet their different QoS goals.
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What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?
"the ability to get more enterprise petabytes out from the same raw flash chips in - by shipping it through better architecture - is a more significant business factor in the flash memory market today than the ability to do another cell geometry shrink - or to add a few more toppings on the 3D pizza "

Zsolt Kerekes, StorageSearch.com

...read more in Fusion-io's profile page
(extracted from SSD news editorial - June 17, 2014)
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Intel invests in Maxta
Editor:- May 7, 2014 - Intel Capital was one of the leading investors in a $25 million series B investment in Maxta which was announced today. Other investors included Tenaya Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.

Editor's comments:- these investors aren't the only ones who believe Yoram Novick's claim that the company he founded is markedly different to the other 95% or so of SSD software startups. A lot of you were sufficiently curious too - which elevated Maxta into the Top SSD Companies list in Q1 2014.

See also:- Maxta case studies and white papers, new trends in SSD boxes
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Pure Storage's funding coffers fattened up to nearly $0.5 billion
Editor:- April 23, 2014 - Pure Storage today announced it had raised another $225 million in funding - bringing the total in all rounds to $470 million.

Editor's comments:- One of Pure Storage's many competitors - Nimbus - whose CEO has taken a different approach to funding (so far) - this week published an unflattering side by side features comparison between the 2 company's flagship rackmount SSDs.

See also:- rackmount SSD trends
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another $13 million for Primary Data
Editor:- February 17, 2014 - A report in SiliconAngle.com - shared from the linkedin page of Primary Data's CMO - Rick White - says that Primary Data (which is still in stealth mode) has secured another $13 million funding - bringing its total funding up to $63 million.
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"Over and above the competitive pressures in the PCIe SSD market - Fusion-io's business suffered from self inflicted problems too."
the Top SSD Companies - Q4 2013 (January 31, 2014)
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"This IBM rackmount SSD - evolved from the TMS RamSan - has possibly been generating about $500 million of revenue in the past year - which explains where some of the revenue missing from competitors' financial reports may have gone to."
It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it (January 16, 2014)
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"We're #1 Most-Searched Private Company on StorageSearch.com"
Frankie Roohparvar, COO - Skyera - in his blog with the above title (December 9, 2013)
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Rick and Dave's new stealth mode enterprise SSD company - Primary Data - gets $50 million initial funding
Editor:- November 11, 2013 - you may be asking yourself - how does a company founded less than 6 months ago - and which doesn't say anything much on its web site - manage to attract $50 million in its first external funding round?

The answer is given by one of these investors, Ping Li at Accel Partners - who - in the recent funding press release - said Primary Datas biggest asset is its team of recognized pioneers in the storage industry. Their technical strength and remarkable experience in successfully bringing disruptive technologies to market will help to solve a number of data virtualization and mobility problems.
  • who's Primary Data? - Primary Data, founded in 2013 and with operations in Salt Lake City, Silicon Valley and Israel - is developing next generation data virtualization and mobility technologies to manage how information is stored and shared globally.
  • what are they up to? - (best guess) SSD software which will change the economics of cloud servers and storage by disruptively improving the utilization efficiency and performance of virtualized apps servers.
Editor's comments:- now if you've been researching this - you'll see that I haven't actually told you any new details about Primary Data which you couldn't already have learned from seeing the public statements which the company has dispersed in various places on the web.

One of the peculiarities about stealth mode companies is they do need to talk to people to get things done - but they also need to control the flow of information about what they reveal for various reasons - not least of which are:-
  • they don't want to alert competitors
  • they might change the details and direction of what they do
Last week I was talking to the founder of yet another stealth mode SSD company - whose web site says a little bit more than that of Primary Data - but I can't say who he is yet either.

I can tell you what he told me, however, which is this...

He had to launch his minimalist web site some time before he would have ideally liked to - because some of his early customers have policies which mean they can't make payments to a company which doesn't have a web site.

Going back to Primary Data - I think I can safely say this.

I confidently predict that when Primary Data does formally exit stealth mode and launch its new products - it will join an elite band of SSD companies (Fusion-io, SandForce, DensBits and Skyera) in entering the Top SSD Companies List within a single quarter. (If not before).
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the SSD IPO saga turns to Nimble
Editor:- October 18, 2013 - Nimble Storage has filed its FORM S-1 documents for an IPO from which we learn the following things.
  • Nimble has 1,750 end-customers
  • Nimble had $50 million revenue in the 6 months ending July 31 - at which time it also had 464 employees
Editor's comments:- unlike Violin which IPOed recently, Nimble's rackmount systems are primarily caching hybrid arrays. Although this is another very crowded market segment within the enterprise SSD product continuum - Nimble has a clear positioning message which is...

"Our mission is to provide our customers with the industry's most efficient storage platform."

I like that wording - because exactly a year ago in my home page blog here on StorageSearch.com - my theme was Efficiency as internecine SSD competitive advantage.

PS - If you're researching Nimble (Storage) then please be careful not to get them mixed up with Nimbus (Data).

Nimbus's CEO told me recently he'd prefer it if I always expanded "Nimbus" to "Nimbus Data" - so that people don't get Nimbus confused with Nimble.

This malapropism isn't something which I had considered before.

I replied that in the unlikely event that serious customers (as opposed to casual readers) ever did get confused - the solution would be for one of the companies involved to change their name.
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wonder why all big SSD users will pedal back their buying?
Editor:- October 8, 2013 - Before you make that next presentation about what's happening in the business world of enterprise flash, or before you commit to any future datelines for hard drives being sold into the enterprise you'd be well advised to meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon - the (long anticipated) new home page blog on StorageSearch.com.
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VMEM? - "Ouch" - says Business Insider
discussed here in SSD news (September 28, 2013)
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another $150 million for Pure Storage
"the fastest growing storage company in history"
Editor:- August 29, 2013 - Pure Storage today -announced that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with institutional investors which brings the companys total capital raise to $245 million. The company has shipped hundreds of units of its FlashArrays (fast-enough rackmount SSDs) to a diverse global customer base and claims it's one of the fastest growing storage companies in the industrys history.

Editor's comments:- in 2001 I started an annual series which listed the fastest growing storage companies - based on revenue growth. I ended the series in 2007/8 when the credit crunch kicked in. But you can still see many of the archived articles.

In the last year of the series there were 3 storage companies which reported over 300% year on year revenue growth. Today Pure Storage is hinting that its year on year revenue growth is north of 400%.
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Tegile says its sales exceed its VC funding
Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Tegile Systems (which operates in the SSD ASAP market) today announced the closing of its $35 million Round C funding led by late-stage venture firm Meritech Capital Partners with additional investment by original stakeholder August Capital and strategic partners WD and SanDisk.

Editor's comments:- Tegile says that unlike some other VC funded companies in this market space which have lived mostly on investments Tegile has generated more customer revenue than it has taken in outside financing.
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Samsung invests in SolidFire
Editor:- July 25, 2013 - SolidFire today announced it has raised $31 million in series C funding which includes a new investor - Samsung Ventures. SolidFire's latest product - the SF9010 - an iSCSI compatible fast-enough rackmount SSD - which will ship in September - uses SSDs from Samsung.
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SanDisk invests in Panzura
Editor:- June 27, 2013 - SanDisk today announced it has invested in Panzura.

Panzura is another excellent example of the important role flash memory is playing in the transformation of the enterprise said Sumit Sadana, executive VP and chief strategy officer of SanDisk.

See also:- exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
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As you can see from the types of acquisition which occur most frequently - the recent trend in SSD company acquisitions has been mostly about buying the capability to design a better SSD rather than buying a company which already makes a perfect product. That's because the evolution of - what is an SSD? what it should do? and how it should fit into the computing infrastructure is still evolving.
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs - (May 24, 2013)
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Reduxio gets $9 million initial funding
Reduxio raised $9 million in its first financing round from Carmel Ventures and Jerusalem Venture Partners - according to a report in Globes-Online.com.
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RunCore closes $10 million funding
Editor:- March 29, 2013 - RunCore today announced it has closed $10 million in Series B funding led by OFC (Oriental Fortune Capital).

The global solid state storage market is booming, so we believe that now is the best time to take on board strategic investors to more rapidly achieve our globalization plans" said Jack Wu, CEO - RunCore.
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more money for Diablo
Editor:- March 19, 2013 - It's not unusual in the current SSD market for some companies to have oversubscribed investor funding rounds - and that was the case recently with Diablo Technologies which today announced it has closed an additional $7.5 million of funding, increasing the total equity investment of its most recent round to $36 million. USVP joins previously announced investors.

Editor's comments:- Diablo describes its product as being these categories:- "soon-to-be-announced" and "disruptive".

If you're already interested in PCIe SSDs, InfiniBand or SSDs in RAM module form factors (but which unlike the flash DIMMs from memory makers - might actually emerge from stealth mode attached with a software model) then what Diablo does do with its Memory Channel Storage may impact some of your future long range plans.

Like you - I'm guessing of course. Diablo hasn't ordered any SSD ads yet - although that $7.5 million would come in handy.
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another $24 million funding for ZFS SSD ASAP ISV Nexenta
Editor:- February 27, 2013 - Nexenta Systems today announced it has secured $24 million in Series D financing.

The company's SSD ASAP software - called NexentaStor - currently supports SSDs from the following companies:- DDRdrive, HGST, InnoDisk , Intel, LSI, OCZ, SanDisk, Seagate, SMART and STEC - according to Nexenta's hardware support list (pdf).
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Skyera gets $51 million funding from Dell
Editor:- February 21, 2013 - Skyera today announced it has closed $51.6 million in financing led by Dell Ventures.

Skyera will use the money to accelerate its integration of the latest-generation flash technology and also to drive broader market adoption of its adaptive R/W based, big controller architecture, efficient, Skyhawk family of rackmount SSDs.

The investment in Skyera is one example of how we are deploying our Fluid Data Storage Fund to target areas critical to the evolution of storage...said Jim Lussier, Managing Director of Dell Ventures.
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Proton gets funding to rejuvenate flash
Editor:- February 7, 2013 - Proton Digital Systems today announced the completion of its $2 million seed round to support continued development and expansion of its LDPC-based flash read channel IP products that increase the endurance and longevity of flash memory.

Protons IP is currently licensed for enterprise and consumer applications and has already been adopted by some of the worlds largest flash memory companies.

See also:- adaptive R/W and DSP IP in SSDs, flash SSD management care schemes, SSD controllers
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Samsung allocates $1 billion for big data investments
Editor:- February 4, 2013 - Samsung today announced it has allocated over $1 billion to invest in big data related business ventures.

Editor's comments:- to you and me - $1 billion sounds like a lot of money - but for Samsung? - really it's small change.

From my past conversations with people in the company who think about acquisitions and strategic stuff - I'm left with the impression of a company which invests a lot of talent - trying to understand what's going on out there and - to analyze what macro market factors and changes will impact its semiconductor fabs.

Samsung was actually the first multi-billion dollar scale company to publicly recognize the strategic importance of the SSD market (2005). But replacing past memory business with new SSD business for many years was a problem on the scale of bailing out water from the Titanic with bathtub size pots.

Like other big interested entities - Samsung could do little more than satisfice its engagements in SSD while waiting for the whole SSD market to get bigger, and the trends to get clearer.

Along the way it has invested in some SSD IP companies - such as Fusion-io, acquired others like NVELO, and tried but failed to acquire SanDisk (2008).

Rather than simply being seen as traditional return on investments - this type of activity by Samsung and other semico companies like Intel - is a way of ensuring strategic forward visibility into new seedlings in the ecosystems which surround their core businesses.
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SanDisk invests in WhipTail
Editor:- December 13, 2012 - WhipTail today announced it has secured $31 million series C funding from a group of investors which includes:- SanDisk, an unnamed "Silicon Valley industry titan".

Ignition Partners, RRE Ventures andSpring Mountain Capital also contributed to this Series C funding and Silicon Valley Bank provided debt finance.
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"No-VC" Nimbus - story on Bloomberg
Editor:- November 28, 2012 - Why Nimbus Data's founder Thomas Isakovich didn't want VC stakeholders in his SSD company - having got frozen out from an earlier storage venture - is the topic in a recent article on Bloomberg - in which Tom also discusses the new way of growing a business - with real customers - via the web.
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Diablo gets funding for alternative to PCIe SSDs
Editor:- November 8, 2012 - as if 400 wasn't already enough - every week I hear about new SSD companies.

One such - Diablo Technologies - today announced a $28 million funding round.

Diablo's Memory Channel Storage - which will soon emerge from stealth - may not strictly be PCIe SSDs - but they will nevertheless affect users and vendors in this market.
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former BlueArc CEO, leaves HDS to steer Virident
Editor:- September 20, 2012 - Confidence about the prospects for flash in the enterprise, and a firm conviction that Virident is a key player which will make a difference to the enterprise SSD market - set the tone of the conversation I had on Monday with the company's new CEO Mike Gustafson who was a few days into his new job and briefing me on Virident's announcement yesterday about his new appointment and the company's $26 million in Series D Funding. ...more in SSD news
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Pure Storage announces $40 million funding round
In August 2012 - Pure Storage cranked up the heat on its funding to $95 million with a new $40 million Series D funding round.

That's about $1 million of funding for each system shipped since the company emerged from stealth a year ago.

Toughest competitor - based on price - is Skyera - although Skyera will have to prove during the next few quarters that their recently launched technologies work in real world installations before they become a real headache.

Toughest competitors - based on impact of established market presence and reputation - are Texas Memory Systems, Violin, and Nimbus.
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$3 million for China based PCIe SSD startup Memblaze
In July 2012 - Infinity Group (a VC company) announced that, together with Z-Park Venture Capital in Beijing, it had invested 20 Million RMB (nearly US$3.2 Million) in Memblaze, a high-speed storage hardware start-up company with plans in the PCIe SSD market.
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what's happening now? - see SSD news

before? - VCs in storage - 2000 to 2012

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Storage Class Memory, flash endurance, NVMf, NVMe and NVDIMM variations...
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SSD Market Analysts
the Top SSD Companies
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No VC - series on Bloomberg
Can you trust SSD market data?
A Unified Theory of VC Suckage
VCs Don't Like Small Investments
SSD company and IP acquisitions
Strategic Transitions in SSD in 2015
3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market
Branding Strategies in the SSD Market
6 things you need to secure VC funding
It's hard to be a VC - harder to be his wife
Customers Search Differently to Marketers
the BIG market impact of SSD dark matter
the Trillion dollar investor blog -by Sramana Mitra
how will Memory Channel Storage impact PCIe SSDs?
context - PCIe SSDs within the all solid state datacenter
utilization and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

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90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
this way to market consolidation


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SSD ad - click for more info


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There are many segments for enterprise flash arrays which aren't listed or even hinted at in standard models of the enterprise market.

Many of these missing market segments don't even have names.

Hey - that means SSD-world is like a map of the US before Lewis and Clark.

If you're a VC should this make you anxious or happy?
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise


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We are now at a stage in the development of the SSD market - where even the dogs in the street know this is going to be a multibillion dollar market. The days of the "SSD deniers" and "SSD market entry procrastinators" are behind us.
Analysts will look back on 2010 as - "Year 1 of the SSD Market Bubble." (December 2009)
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top 10 SSD oems
top SSD companies ..
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Financial data has flaws for a market like SSDs.
  • it's backwards looking,
  • is available too late to provide visibility in fast growing discontinuous markets,
  • and is not available at all for significant companies in the market which are privately owned.
Search precedes rational decision making and supplier selection about new products in new markets. And that's why a high quality search based ranking can provide useful market direction.

That was part of my thinking - 7 years ago - behind this landmark SSD market data series.

And looking back at the accuracy of the past 28 quarterly reports which have tracked millions of focused SSD decision makers - there's still nothing to beat it.
the Top SSD Companies


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"We can't afford NOT to participate in the SSD market. But don't ask how we're going to make money out of it just yet..."
hostage to the fortunes of SSD



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If an SSD company is worth significantly more on a Friday than it was on the Monday - that's taken as a positive endorsement of the whole SSD paradigm.

Competitors go around saying - we're a bit like them too. Everyone's happy.

...On the other hand...

If an SSD company is worth significantly less on a Friday than it was on the Monday - here's what happens.
SSD investments, x8 flash, and ETs





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In this article I'm going to assume you have more than a passing curiosity and more likely a serious professional interest in the SSD market - otherwise you wouldn't still be here.
Can you trust SSD market data?





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SSD ad - click for more info





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That step - when users make the switch to newer generations of software - means not only do they need less servers - but they don't need as many SSDs as they did in an earlier phase of SSD market adoption either.

Some enterprise vendors have already seen that painful effect - the most notable being Fusion-io.

However it will affect all enterprise SSD vendors at some time or other.
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon





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Market hype around new technologies from startups results in a low conversion rate for sales leads because lots of people want to learn (triggering an inquiry/lead), but few have actual projects underway.

However, the sales team articulates this phenomenon as marketing only produces poor quality sales leads.
Venture Capitalist Insights from the Flash Memory Summit 2013 - by David Lamont, Marketingsage



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"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
SSD software news and articles





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