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EMC's all-flash benediction: Turbulence ahead

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Data protection suppliers and wily disk dogs

  • There are other array suppliers who face the same problems and come from a data protection background. We're thinking of Overland Storage and Quantum. They might well buy an early-stage startup, cheaper than an established player. Overland, with the fertile mind of Geoff Barrall in play, could even pull its own all-flash technology out of its development labs.

  • Both Pillar Data and Xiotech have experienced disk array people involved: Mike Workman, Pillar's CEO, and the Richard Lary/Steve Sicola team at Xiotech. Both companies have solved the frailties of disk drives in their own way to produce high-performance systems and both are late-stage start-ups hopefully transitioning towards profitable independence from their funding agencies. Both are also faced with reacting to all-flash arrays as JBOSS boxes – Just a Bunch of Solid State – can do the high-performance primary data storage of their products better, in raw performance terms, than their own carefully-designed technology can.

    El Reg thinks Pillar needs to provide its own all-flash Axiom, and our intuition tells us it will build its own technology. Xiotech needs to do the same. JBOSS boxes threaten its storage blades' success in the primary data storage market and Xiotech needs an all-flash ISE (Intelligent Storage Element) – which will turn it into a direct competitor to TMS, Violin and every other provider of primary data solid state boxes, thus destroying its differentiation. It will have to find new ways of differentiating itself from the main group of solid state primary data array suppliers.

  • Lastly there is Huawei-Symantec, a quietly very ambitious storage supplier whom, we think, will produce its own technology or source one from China. Maybe it will surprise us all and buy a US start-up though. We think that's less likely. Fellow Chinese storage supplier UIT could go the same route.

Totting up, we have six to seven potential acquirers, four mid-to-late stage start-ups or mature suppliers (TMS), and five early-to-mid stage start-ups. Will any of the start-ups make it and become mature, independent businesses? El Reg thinks it unlikely.

We reckon that there will be a host of all-flash array technology company acquisitions over the next 12-24 months as EMC's competitors react to its forcing of the market pace, and they scramble to catch up. EMC has opened the floodgates and, by the end of 2015, the idea of primary data being stored on spinning disk will seem simply archaic. ®

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