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Editor:- October 29, 2013 - Cisco today announced it has completed the acquisition of WhipTail.

WhipTail

WhipTail, founded in 2008 and based in Whippany, NJ, is a leading supplier of flash enterprise storage array which address performance issues in data centers by delivering - "data at the speed of life".
.......... WhipTail logo - click for  more info
click for more info about the INVICTA system from Whiptail
fast rackmount SSD acceleration
for legacy network storage apps
"Data at the speed of life"
from Whiptail

Installed worldwide in numerous mission critical database, virtualization, and online environments, WhipTail's solid-state storage dramatically reduces delays related to hard disk contention and access times, allowing servers to process more data in dramatically less time months to days, hours to minutes.

WhipTail - addresses and links
corporate HQ

WhipTail Technologies, Inc.
9 Whippany Road Building 2, 6 & 7
Whippany, NJ 07981
USA
tel:- +1 888 550 8136
url:- http://whiptail.com
... European HQ

WhipTail
Liberty House, 222 Regent Street
London
W1B 5TR
UK
tel:- +44 (0)207 297 2305
...
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See also:- WhipTail - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com,
WhipTail SSD case studies, WhipTail's SSD blog
....


Editor's update:- January 2014 - WhipTail - a top 5 SSD company - entered the Top SSD Companies List in Q4 2011.

In the quarter before Cisco's acquisition announcement - in Q2 2013 - WhipTail was ranked #9 (down 2 places from where it had been in the prior quarter).

In the 2 quarters overlapping with Cisco's acquisition announcement and completion Q3 2013 and Q4 2013 - WhipTail was ranked #5. Its highest position ever.


Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor January 2012

WhipTail is 1 of more than 100 companies in the rackmount SSD market, and also appears in these sub-segments of the SSD market:- iSCSI SSDs, FC SAN SSDs and InfiniBand SSDs.

WhipTail - which launched its first flash SSD arrays in February 2009 - made its debut appearance in the Top SSD Companies List recently (January 2012) based on search metrics in Q4 2011.

The company recently changed the way it describes itself to suggest it was the first company to market enterprise grade flash SSD arrays. That's bunkum of course - because FC and NAS compatible rackmount flash arrays were being shipped by several companies in 2007 - the year before WhipTail was founded - and one of those companies was an early supplier of technology to WhipTail itself.

I don't want to make a big thing out of this particular error - because it's typical of the messy verbiage that many high tech companies get into when they try to formulate a summary description of themselves while still trying to preserve as many words as possible from the Holy Writ passed down from the early text drafts of their founders.

Eventually a kind customer or a clarity seeking editor has to come along and say to a company - Look I'm interested in what you do - but you really do need to rewrite this - either because it doesn't make any sense (I can supply a list of SSD companies with profiles in the nonsense category) or because it appears to make sense but the exact words convey a message which undermines your credibility - or maybe the words just say nothing useful at all.

For example - STEC has appended the null content phrase "the SSD company" to its logo and SSD videos. And whereas they might wish they were "the only (implied) SSD company" - as their investors know only too well - many "other" SSD companies seem to be blissfully unaware that they aren't supposed to exist.

The problem for SSD brand marketers is - once you start adding detailed qualifying statements to company logos and mission statements they can start to read more like a legal contract - and they lose their punchiness.

back to WhipTail...

I was prompted to update my understanding of what WhipTail is doing (in early January 2012) by some probing reader questions which I couldn't answer adequately - as it had been more than a year since I had last talked to the company's CTO and 5 months since they had done anything I regarded as newsworthy.

Sometimes coincidences happen in my job and the very next day a PR person working for WhipTail contacted me and said would I like to talk to one of their senior managers? (This was the week before they went on to announce their 2nd funding round.) And that was also when I had got to the point in analyzing the search stats for Q4 2011 to realize they would be making a debut appearance in the top SSD companies list - which means enough of you are interested in what they do - so I should be too - and their VCs should be happy - for a while too,

I didn't disclose that information - and I said I wasn't interested in a briefing about their press release - but I would be interested shooting the breeze about the SSD market, discussing what they were doing now and getting an update on their business. And that turned out to be a very useful reset for some of my assumptions about WhipTail formed from earlier contacts with the company (and looking at their web site).

redrawing the picture of WhipTail

That's how I got to speak recently to WhipTail's President and CFO - Cameron Pforr .

I started by asking how they were doing with their real-time dedupe and compression technology? - because they talked a lot about that when the company launched and I - for one - thought of them in that context.

He said they were no longer emphasizing that because it led to latencies which were too long to be competitive - and instead they were focusing on performance.

WhipTail's SSD box in 1 paragraph (and 2U)

We discussed technology and rather than follow the track of our dialog I'll give you my own analysis and summary of their product line which is this - WhipTail's XLR8r is a fast-enough (250K write IOPS sustained / 750K IOPS peak) 2U rackmount MLC SSD with regular RAM cache - with an open hardware architecture based on an array of COTS 2.5" SSDs with a usable capacity density of 6TB per U.

WhipTail doesn't design any of the flash SSDs in its arrays - instead it qualifies suppliers for consistency and reliability. Endurance isn't a worry for fast-enough (as opposed to fastest) MLC SSD arrays - especially when there's a high ratio of capacity to user bandwidth and also a RAM cache which helps reduce write amplification. Cameron said the logs from their customer systems extrapolate 8 years operating life.

We had an interesting chat about how to develop SSD business. Cameron had been at Fusion-io and Violin in the early days of those companies trying to attract customers using (to my way of thinking) traditional personal sales oriented techniques rather than modern scalable marketing led methods.

He told me how many people there were in WhipTail when he joined (about 10) and I was surprised. I said they must all have been running and typing very fast and preoccupied with development and sales. It explained to me why the web communications aspect of the company had been so weak. Beefing up marketing is one of the things that the 2nd round funding is supposed to do.

Cameron told me about the good reaction they'd had from customers - reiterating the high percentage of customers who had already made additional purchases. Their customers are from across the usual spectrum of industries and applications which benefit from SSD server acceleration - rather than biased towards 1 or 2 segments.

I've always said that the market for general purpose "not so fast" SSD arrays is much bigger than that for the fastest SSDs - because most mortals don't need ultimate speed - and slower should be cheaper.

WhipTail's competitors?

Cameron Pforr told me he sees WhipTail's particular competitors as being Violin and Texas Memory Systems.

Personally, I'd disagree with that assessment. Those 2 companies occupy a space in user perceptions about the market because they've sold a lot of SSD systems - and that's a market position to aspire to - but I'd say that WhipTail's direct competitors to beat will be the unknown masses of white box and big name SSD RAID vendors.

Let me explain my thinking here.

Systems based on small SSD architecture modules like those in WhipTail's arrays are currently at a 2 to 1 disadvantage when it comes to capacity density compared to the big architecture controllers from Violin and TMS - and WhipTail isn't in the same performance league either - when you look at performance per U.

That's not a problem when you're looking at small installations - where a customer might only use one to a handful of SSD racks - but to my way of thinking - petabyte scale SSD users who want to stuff all their cabinet space with SSDs are going to get more picky about SSD metrics per rack unit.

That's where segmentation comes in.

Some users will prefer the "open" WhipTail approach (because the customers will feel they are less dependent on single source hardware) others will prefer the "proprietary" Violin / TMS approach because it uses less rackspace - while another set of users again will choose to buy standard servers stuffed with PCIe SSD cards. As I discussed in an earlier article about SSD rack trends - I think all these different approaches will thrive despite their apparent contradictions.

In this year of the enterprise SSD goldrush - companies like WhipTail which have an easy to understand system that works and high customer re-order rate - can be confident that if they get their marketing right - they can easily sell all the SSDs they can make.

Getting above the visibility horizon is the first step in that process - and they've achieved that. Staying there as we know from recent SSD history - is much harder.

For more info about WhipTail take a look at the links above and WhipTail - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com.

I currently talk to more than 300 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere - which are all profiled here on the mouse site.

I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If you're interested in the growing big picture of the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way. Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear. I hope you'll find it it useful too.
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WhipTail recent milestones from SSD market history

In February 2009 - WhipTail Tech announced details of its iSCSI compatible 2U rackmount RAID protected SSDs. Available with 1.5TB (price approx $60,000) or 3TB capacities the systems internally use COTS flash SSDs managed by EasyCo's MFT technology which significantly improves write IOPS and endurance.

In April 2009 - WhipTail named 5 new channel partners who are selling its rackmount flash SSDs. This followed another recent announcement that WhipTail had appointed John Zamites as its channel manager.

In July 2009 - WhipTail Technologies announced a 6TB version of its 2U SSD appliance. Pricing starts at $46,000 for a 1.5 TB system.

WhipTail's CEO, Ed Rebholz said "One of Tier 0 storage's downfalls to date has been the perception within the industry that it's too expensive. Since WhipTail's introduction earlier this year, we've already made significant strides in helping our industry peers to gain a new perspective. And in introducing the 6TB capacity, not only is WhipTail setting the bar for performance, footprint and affordability, but now we're the SSD capacity leader."

Editor's comments:- it's certainly the highest density server acceleration SSD I'm aware of. But you should be aware that the internal flash is MLC (and not SLC) which is a bird of a different feather. The memory type wasn't stated in the original text of the press release.

A company spokesperson assured me that WhipTail manages the write cycle to ensure that the MLC disks last a minimum of 7 years when under load.

Other competing 2U SSDs in this capacity range include:- the RamSan-620 a 5TB SLC flash SSD from Texas Memory Systems and the Violin 1010 a 4TB SLC flash SSD from Violin Memory.

In October 2009 - WhipTail Technologies became the 1st SSD appliance company to market integrated in-line deduplication. WhipTail announced it will ship its newly renamed Racerunner (6TB) NAS SSDs with Exar's Hifn BitWackr deduplication and compression solution in Q4 2009. Racerunner has demonstrated deduplication performance in excess of 1Gbps.

In February 2010 - StorageSearch.com published a new directory on the subject of - Solid State Storage Backup (S3B).

In March 2010 - WhipTail Technologies announced a Europe wide distribution and support agreement with Consolidate IT.

In April 2010 - WhipTail Technologies published a white paper which discusses how SSD acceleration can economically close the scaling performance gap which comes from virtual desktops and compares the SSD vs HDD array costs for a 5,000 virtual user system.

Although there's nothing in this article which introduces new SSD acceleration architectural concepts - the 13 page document is a clearly written modern introduction to anyone interested in learning about how SAN centric SSDs can accelerate common applications. ...read the article (pdf)

In August 2010 - in an effort to improve its prospects in the datacenter WhipTail Technologies announced a new name for its NAS SSDs - Datacenter XLR8r instead of Racerunner - and also unveiled HA options which involve dual failover systems. The little lizardy creatures are still on WhipTail 's site. Serious SSD buyers aren't scared by animal brands.

In September 2010 - WhipTail Tech's CTO, James Candelaria shared his SSD Bookmarks with readers of StorageSearch.com.

In August 2011 - Enterprise Strategy Group published a test report on WhipTail Technologies' 2U iSCSI SSD appliance in a simulated 300 desktop VMware / W7 environment. Applications ran glitch free - even when a flash drive was removed.

In January 2012 - WhipTail announced it has secured a Series B funding round led by RRE Ventures, with Ignition Partners and Spring Mountain Capital also participating.

In May 2012 - WhipTail launched a new multi-protocol HA SSD rack called the INVICTA ($250,000 for a 6TB 6U 250K IOPS 200 µS latency model).

storage search banner

"Were going to really be the leaders in the market for converged infrastructure and how this stuff really behaves together when its designed holistically...

"...because the UCS product line is a fairly young product line and the WhipTail product line is a fairly young product line, we have the ability to leverage all the strengths of everything in Ciscos product spacenetworking and computing and now solid state persistenceand really bring together all these pieces into a high performance distributed infrastructure..."
Dan Crain, CEO of WhipTail - from the article - WhipTail has just become part of Cisco (interview transcript) - October 29, 2013
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Cisco to acquire WhipTail
Editor:- September 10, 2013 - Cisco today announced its intent to acquire privately owned WhipTail for approximately $415 million in cash and retention-based incentives.

"We are focused on providing a converged infrastructure including compute, network and high performance solid state that will help address our customers' requirements for next-generation computing environments," said Paul Perez, VP and GM, Cisco Computing Systems Product Group.

Editor's comments:- as we learned in June - WhipTail has designed an elegant and scalable software and hardware architecture to solve the ever changing SSD rackmount riddle game - which can compete in cost sensitive iSCSI environments or hold its head up among the fastest SSD installations while also offering resilient fault tolerance and upgradability.

WhipTail entered the Top 20 SSD companies list in Q4 2011 and has been in the Top 10 part of these lists in every quarter since Q2 2012.

See also:- the new thinking in rackmount SSDs
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"The Data Storage industry born in the 1950s has plateaued. Today it is dominated by a handful of players who are struggling with several issues including:- boredom that has led to more innovative marketing than technical innovation and an interdependent ecosystem that is highly resistant to change."
Dan Crain, CEO of WhipTail (August 27, 2013) in his article - Data Storage in Flux – Time for a Radical Change?
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WhipTail opens new channel for defense sales
Editor:- July 24, 2013 - ViON announced it will now serve as an authorized provider of maintenance and support services for the entire WhipTail product line.

"This partnership took off primarily due to the great success at WhipTail with the defense and intelligence communities and ViON's clearance and track record of successfully providing first level support for other vendors." said Dan Crain, CEO of WhipTail.
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"You won't be surprised to learn that almost no-one has ever been able to guess the correct answer to question #3 - what will my next box look like?"
Editor:- June 7, 2013 - Whiptail offers clues to Users playing the SSD box riddle game
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SSD ad - click for more info
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WhipTail outgrows in-house manufacturing
Editor:- February 21, 2013 - WhipTail today announced that it has outsourced manufacturing its full range of rackmount SSDs to NEI.

"When we were a small company, we could handle our own manufacturing, but that's not the case anymore" said Dan Crain, CEO WhipTail.
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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 include SanDisk, an unnamed "Silicon Valley industry titan" and some named private equity companies and VCs.
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"customers want more" - says Whiptail's CEO
Editor:- November 29, 2012 - Whiptail today announced a new up-scale option for its Invicta (rackmount SSDs) which will be available in the next quarter.

The so-called INFINITY option elevates the ceiling from 6 to 30 nodes and up to 360TB flash.

Dan Crain, Whiptail's CEO said - One clear theme that we've heard from our customers is - we want more. What they are discovering is once they start moving their data and applications to Whiptail, their productivity increases so much that they want to bring all of their business critical apps to flash. Its like eating potato chips, you cant stop with just one.
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Datacenter SSD capacity may grow 8x in the next 2 years - says IT Brand Pulse
Editor:- August 31, 2012 - Frank Berry, CEO at IT Brand Pulse gave a presentation at the Flash Memory Summit - SSD Buyer Behavior (pdf) - which lists perceptions of who are the SSD brand leaders based on datacenter surveys.

Among the many findings in this presentation is that datacenter SSD users expect their SSD capacity will grow nearly 8x in the next 2 years.

Among the many brand classifications - Whiptail was ranked #2 in unified SAN/NAS rackmount flash SSDs, after the #1 ranked Nimbus.

A more detailed report - Flash Unified SSD System Brand Leaders - is available ($3,950, 19 pages).

Editor's comments:- in the Top SSD Companies List (by StorageSearch.com reader search volume) Whiptail ranks above Nimbus, instead of below it - as suggested by the IT Brand Pulse survey mentioned above.

Differences in relative ranking are probably due to different sample sizes and methods. Both companies are significant if you're looking for this type of product.
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SSD ad - click for more info
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recent SSD articles
HA SSDs - article and directory about fault tolerant enterprise SSD systems.

Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide - sanity rules for a maddenly unruly market.

2012 SSD market milestones - if you're getting up to speed with the SSD market - lists the most significant products, suppliers and changes in the past few quarters.

how fast can your SSD run backwards? - Key Symmetries in SSD design - what they are and why you need to know.

the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs - SSD ASAPs are 1 of the 6 main SSD product types that will be around in the pure solid state storage datacenter of the future in the 2016 to 2020 timeframe.

Where are we now with SSD software? - and how did we get here?

if Fusion-io sells more does that mean Violin will sell less? - my analysis of the complex market interchange between the PCIe SSD and FC SAN SSD and IP SSD markets.

the BIG market impact of SSD dark matter - most analyst predictions undersize the enterprise SSD market - and this article explains why.

Can you tell me the best way to SSD Street? - I'm like the Old Woman of the SSD Village who talks to everyone that passes through. No wonder I have a unique perspective. It would be strange if I didn't.

Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide - a handful of simple guidelines to help you navigate more safely through the rapidly evolving enterprise SSD jungle.

what do I need to know about any new rackmount SSD? - recently I compiled a shortlist of info which I instinctively look for when assessing whether I or my readers should be interested in a newly launched rackmount SSD.
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don't all PCIe SSDs look pretty much the same?
When you look at the photos and headline specs for high speed PCIe SSDs - it's easy to come away with the impression that they all look the same and have about the same performance.

After all - how different can they be?

But don't let the experience of the 2.5" SSD market - in which clusters of consumer SSD vendors use the same or similar controllers and hover close together inpopular (consumer) performance rankings - give you the wrong idea about PCIe SSDs.

In this market the performance limits and capabilities of the SSD aren't set by an old hard disk interface and package limitations.

In the PCIe market the products you get are limited only by the imagination of the designers - tempered by the guesses of marketers who are trying to predict the optimum (most salable) features for an ideal SSD.
click to read the article And because server apps vary - so too do those idealized designs too. ...read the article
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7 SSD types will satisfy all future enterprise needs
The enterprise SSD market is complicated enough already but despite that - only 7 distinct types of SSD classes are all that are needed to sustainably satisfy all the architecture needs in the pure solid state storage data center of the future.

That's the message of my article - an introduction to enterprise SSD silos.

"SSDs aren't islands - their data always comes from and goes on to other SSDs. Enterprise SSDs which have been designed without any reference to how they will be segmented marketwise and interact technically with other types of SSDs - in the mind's eye of the customer architecture - will eventually fail in the market..."

If you're an enterprise SSD user - you can use these classifications to judge where all the current SSDs in your shortlist today fit within the scope of your (maybe as yet unclear) future SSD architecture.

In today's SSD market there are many SSD solutions which appear to solve today's problems economically - but which are dead-end solutions from an SSD architecture point of view.

If you install such systems now - then you will create future problems when you expand your SSD infrastructure because those types of products and their suppliers may not be around for too long.

If you're an SSD vendor - then having a clearer picture of the future enterprise customer mix will help you kill bad product ideas before they sink the business.

Better still - knowing where your good products fit in the model will help you market them more efficiently...
SSD silos article and may help you recognize which SSD vendors could be natural partners - because you don't compete for the same SSD cave space. ...read the article
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