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the SSD software market is getting ready for a world in which all enterprise data touches SSDs

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - January 8, 2014
A year ago it was rare for me to complete a day in which I didn't have several conversations with leading banks, investors or VCs about the SSD market. I discussed the rationale for that in my article - hostage to the fortunes of SSD (which among other things explained why there was a ramp up in the frequency and size of SSD company acquisitions and investments in 2013).

Moving on from that - in recent months - it's been rare for a day to go by - without me talking to an SSD software company. And that in itself is an interesting indication of how much the SSD market has changed.

In one of those conversations with a co-founder of one of the early pioneers of enterprise SSD system software I said how strange it felt that as recently as 5 years ago it would be difficult to name more than a handful of companies whose prime business output was enterprise SSD software. Whereas today - new SSD software companies are popping out of stealth mode or launching their first real products every week.

Today it would be easy to compile a list of 50 enterprise SSD ISVs. And that's just the start. When you add in the SSD drive and systems companies who are also doing their own significant things with SSD software - that list (depending on your judgement of "what's significant?") could easily exceed 100 companies.

That scale of transformation is similar to the expansion we saw in the number of SSD companies in the 10 years leading up to 2007 - (the year of SSD Revolutions).

Why this ramp up in SSD software activity? And what does the VC community think about it? Aren't they disillusioned by the flatlining and collapse in revenue they've seen in some noteworthy enterprise SSD companies recently? (Some of which now seems inevitable in retrospect and was discussed in my blog - meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software horizon.)

As to why the activity?...

Sure - a lot of good things have been done in the field of SSD software - to make using SSDs and getting the benefits more easily. But as more investment goes into SSD infrastructure - the economic arguments for doing even more become more compelling. The shift from SSDs living in a world created around HDDs - and moving towards SSDs in an apps environment where all the server and storage architecture is predicated around SSD - requires a lot of work.

Which companies are going to be the leaders in the SSD platform and SSD architecture market?

Although there are some contenders - more than half of those have yet to launch their first product. That's why in my 2013 transitions blog - I said that 2014 looks like it could be an exciting time for SSD software.

Going back to - who's going to fund these companies? and why?

The SSD platform represents a bigger market opportunity in the next 5 years than any other type of enterprise software. 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 online search.

With any of the current leading SSD software companies being capable of being displaced by new startups (or so the founders of new software companies would have you believe) - this is a subject which will attract a lot of attention in the next few years.

It's about more than changing software to use SSDs. It's about changing the architecture of everything that touches data. SSDs are an essential part of that. But it's the software which will take the revolution to the next level.

Until there are established leaders in the market - who set the roadmap and agenda for most enterprise SSD software architecture and who can't be displaced due to their market dominance (something which may not happen until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest) there will be no shortage of investment in, and resources for - the SSD software platform market.
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Being late to market doesn't count as a mortal sin in the SSD marketing lexicon right now because first mover advantage assumptions aren't valid in this phase of the market's development.

Let's remember that when LSI entered the SSD market in January 2010 - I said "LSI is the 163rd company to enter the SSD market".

And look where they are now.
who's who in SSD? - VMware (March 6, 2014)

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