What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - June 16, 2014
|The result of combining the
product lines from SanDisk and Fusion-io will be an enterprise SSD product
offering which is unmatched in the industry in a broad range of enterprise SSD
product categories including:-|
The acquisition will enable several new things which would
not have been technically possible or profitably viable from either company
on its own including:-
- Fusion-io's software is scalable downwards into more market segments
(such as consumer and commodity enterprise array
components such as
2.5" PCIe SSDs)
which were not attractive for FIO to pursue on it own.
But for a
flash memory company like SanDisk the ability to create
controllerless SSDs -
would enable entirely new product types to be built. - SSDs built on such
technology (without internal microcontroller offload processors) would be the
cheapest in class - compared to all traditional SSDs with internal CPUs.
At the high end
business level - for SanDisk - the ability to monetize flash at the rackmount
systems level (which is the most efficient way to convert raw flash chips into
usable enterprise SSDs) is a rational next step from its acquisition last year
of the world leading adaptive controller technology from
- Fusion-io's rackmount storage virtualization software will open up new
markets for SanDisk's SATA SSDs.
For example in the
embedded rackmount segment SanDisk would be able to offer customers a
rackfull of SATA SSDs as a basic integration component - thereby simplifying
integration and support issues for customers who need large quantities of
vanilla storage racks.
And Fusion-io's hybrid array product line - is
a ready made platform for spawning a new high end storage array - which
could use low cost flash SSDs instead of hard drives.
memory makers are operating under self imposed constraints on investing new
capacity for flash wafer
starts - while they evaluate what comes next.
So one way to raise
the revenue ceiling from the same raw flash is to own
architecture with high
effectiveness (like that from Fusion-io) which multiplies upwards how
many petabytes of virtual usable flash can be delivered to satisfy users
compared to other (more) wasteful designs and business channels.
consideration - 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 adding a few more layers of toppings on
the 3D nand pizza.
What will SanDisk really
get from Fusion-io? - more usable flash petabytes out from the same raw wafer
starts - due to better architecture.
and here's some more
those interested in the emerging
SSD market - I've written an article - which speculates what could happen
to this class of flash DIMM SSDs in various hypothetical contexts - such as -
whether or not SanDisk also acquires
MCS versus PCIe
SSDs (are they really different?)
|SanDisk spins off NexGen|
|Editor:- January 8, 2015 - SanDisk today
clarified that "Hybrid systems incorporating hard-disk drives are not part
of SanDisk's strategic focus."|
This strategy direction statement
by Sumit Sadana,
executive VP and chief strategy officer, SanDisk was part of an
today that SanDisk has completed the spin-out of Fusion-io's
ioControl (hybrid SSD systems) business as a separate company called NexGen Storage.
has agreed to be a supplier of
PCIe flash storage
technology to NexGen but will not maintain an ownership interest.
will be led by John
Spiers who was co-founder and CEO of the original NexGen company before
by Fusion-io in April
2013 (for $119 million).
Editor's comments:- In
retrospect Fusion-io's acquisition of NexGen was a mistake.
didn't have enough cash or people resources to invest in bootstrapping 2
entirely new systems businesses (one in the fast SSD rackmount market, and the
other (based on NexGen) in the
hybrid SSD appliance
market) at a time when both markets were already becoming much more
Can NexGen succeed as a standalone company?
Hundreds of other companies are also competing in the hybrid market
- so you can ask them. Most likely NexGen will get acquired again.
|Why was Fusion-io - the
best known and most often admired enterprise SSD company - unable to survive as
an independent company?|
|It's partly an
SSD market thing
and partly due to the consequences of technology and product choices made
by the company. There were many factors:-
- the rise in quality and general competitiveness of vendors in all parts
of the enterprise SSD market.
- over arching ambition.
Fusion-io (the company which had
created the PCIe SSD
market) embarked on becoming an independent presence in 2 major segments
rackmount SSD systems
In my view the
imperative to do this was almost inevitable but it also required much
more financial resources than simply being a PCIe SSD vendor.
the need to seed more resources for the new rackmount systems business came
at a time when revenue was flat, the PCIe SSD product line had lost its earlier
competitive edge, and the
financial markets were
downgrading the value
of many former leading enterprise SSD companies.
the 2012 warning about Fusion-io's late to
market next generation flash
- being late to market with adaptive DSP flash management technology.
more about this below.
June 2014 - with
its Atomic series products
- Fusion-io began volume shipments of its 5th generation flash products which
were able to use 20nm (approx) nand flash.
This was more than 18
months after vendors like
delivering similar flash geometries to array vendors - in the form of
2.5" SAS SSDs, and
10 months after Violin
was shipping the same flash geometries as VIMMs in its rackmount storage arrays.
analyzed the business risk factors for Fusion-io being late to market with the
controller technology required to do this 2 years ao in this article -
the Top SSD Companies
- in 2012 Q2 - in which I explained why Fusion risked losing its
competitive edge due to this deficit - despite being able to mitigate some of
Looking ahead - as part of SanDisk - and being able to tap
into their knowledge base of signal processing and its interaction with flash
management - I expect that within 1 or 2 quarters we would see incremental
enhancements to the endurance or latency of the Atomic product line - even when
using the same memory.
| 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
|VCs & SSDs|
|This new article will
attempt to outline some key segmentational factors in the rackmount SSD market
which appear to have been mostly overlooked, underrated or neglected for
extraction as explicit segments - and which I think deserve more attention,
analysis and action by the SSD industry to create a more efficient market which
works better for all stakeholders.|
hidden segments in the enterprise|