WD buys nand flash SSD storage I/O cache vendor Virident
Congratulations to Virident for being bought today for $645 Million USD by Western Digital (WD). Virident a nand flash PCIe card startup vendor has been around for several years and in the last year or two has gain more industry awareness as a competitor to FusionIO among others.
Why the nand flash SSD cash dash and cache dance?
Here is a piece that I did today over at InfoStor on a related theme that sets the basis of why the nand flash-based SSD market is popular for storage and as a cache. Hence there is a flash cash dash and by some dance for increased storage I/O performance.
Like the hard disk drive (HDD) industry before it which despite what some pundits and profits have declared (for years if not decades) as being dead (it is still alive), there were many startups, shutdowns, mergers and acquisitions along with some transformations. Granted solid-state memories is part of the presence and future being deployed in new and different ways.
The same thing has occurred in the nand flash-based SSD sector with LSI acquiring SANDforce, SANdisk picking up Pliant and Flashsoft among others. Then there is Western Digital (WD) that recently has danced with their cash as they dash to buy up all things flash including Stec (drives & PCIe cards), Velobit (cache software), Virident (PCIe cards), along with Arkeia (backup) and an investment in Skyera.
What about industry trends and market dynamics?
Meanwhile there have been some other changes with former industry darling and highflying stock post IPO FusionIO hitting as market reality and sudden CEO departure a few months ago. However after a few months of their stock being pummeled, today it bounced back perhaps as people now speculate who will buy FusionIO with WD picking up Virident. Note that one of Viridents OEM customers is EMC for their PCIe flash card XtremSF as are Micron and LSI.
Meanwhile Stec, also now own by WD was also EMCs original flash SSD drive supplier or what they refer to as a EFDs (Electronic Flash Devices), not to mention having also supplied HDDs to them (also keep in mind WD bought HGST a year or so back).
There are some early signs as well as their stock price jumping today which was probably oversold. Perhaps people are now speculating that maybe Seagate who had been an investor in Virident which was bought by WD for $645 million today might be in the market for somebody else? Alternatively, that perhaps WD didn’t see the value in a FusionIO, or willing to make big flash cache cash grabs dash of that size? Also note Seagate won a $630 million (and the next appeal was recently upheld) infringement lawsuit vs. WD (here and here).
Does that mean FusionIO could become Seagate’s target or that of NetApp, Oracle or somebody else with the cash and willingness to dash, grab a chunk of the nand flash, and cache market?
Likewise, there are the software I/O and caching tool vendors some of which are tied to VMware and virtual servers vs. others that are more flexible that are gaining popularity. What about the systems or solution appliances play, could that be in the hunt for a Seagate?
Anything is possible however IMHO that would be a risky move, one that many at Seagate probably still remember from their experiment with Xiotech, not to mention stepping on the toes of their major OEM customer partners.
Thus I would expect Seagate if they do anything would be more along the lines of a component type suppler meaning a FusionIO (yes they have Nexgen, however that could be easily dealt with), OCZ, perhaps even a LSI or Micron however some of those start to get rather expensive for a quick flash cache grab for some stock and cash.
Also, keep in mind that FusionIO in addition to having their PCIe flash cards also have the ioturbine software-caching tool that if you are not familiar with, IBM recently made an announcement of their Flash Cache Storage Accelerator (FCSA) that has an affiliation to guess who?
Closing comments (for now)
Some of the systems or solutions players will survive, perhaps even being acquired as XtremIO was by EMC, or file for IPO like Violin, or express their wish to IPO and or be bought such as all the others (e.g. Skyera, Whiptail, Pure, Solidfire, Cloudbyte, Nimbus, Nimble, Nutanix, Tegile, Kaminario, Greenbyte, and Simplivity among others).
Here's the thing, those who really do know what is going to happen are not and probably cannot say, and those who are talking what will happen are like the rest of us, just speculating or providing perspectives or stirring the pot among other things.
So who will be next in the flash cache ssd cash dash dance?
Ok, nuff said (for now).