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Xiotech becomes banking apps bottleneck-buster

Palms some cash, changes stance

Intelligent flash storage arrays

All change, all change. Xiotech has gained new funding, a new marketing officer, changed its marketing, has benchmarks coming and is setting up a European infrastructure.

The new funding has partly arrived in the past month or so, with more coming in the next couple of weeks. The investors are opening their chequebooks on the back of Fusion-io's IPO, which has proved not to be a bubble valuation as some doomsters predicted – including, sadly, us – but has boosted the valuation of all flash-based startups. Violin's implied valuation was also a help here.

It seems the new funding is going to help pay for an uprated marketing and sales organisation with a focus on flogging Xiotech's Hybrid ISE storage enclosure – the one using closely coupled and tiered flash and hard drives. It will punt the Hybrid ISE as a perfect storage platform to run banking and finance applications that are bottlenecked by storage array I/O limitations and/or management and operational complexity gained as a painful byproduct of using other suppliers' solid state products.

In the USA, Tony Asaro is working for Xiotech as a consultant. As near as we can guess, Asaro is effectively the company's new chief marketing officer. The previous incumbent, Brian Reagan, left in June to become the cloud program executive at IBM, where he worked before joining Xiotech.

Tony Asaro

Tony Asaro (left) is well known in the storage industry from his days as an analyst with ESG, as chief strategy officer at Virtual Iron, and then for setting up his own business, the INI Group. He said: "I am working as a strategic consultant helping [Xiotech] with marketing, product direction, strategies, etc."

In Europe there is a new EMEA VP, Roger Walton, and the previous European sales director, Paul Silver, has left.

We understand that there are going to be several benchmark announcements coming, such as SPC ones, for the Hybrid ISE, as well as customer stories, such as a North American financial institution which is replacing a flash hardware-based application I/O acceleration system component with Hybrid ISEs. Xiotech is going to market the fact that Hybrid ISE works well with VMware, Citrix and Hyper-V, having all the virtualised server bases covered.

Walton said he is looking to work with DataCore resellers in Europe: and with DataCore software working with Hybrid ISE and 70 per cent of its business in Europe that makes good sense. He is also looking to build relationships with financial application software suppliers so that Xiotech and the suppliers can present joint solutions to banking and finance customers.

Walton claims it has "the same performance as Fusion-io for one-fifth of the price"

In particular Hybrid ISE is great, he said, at solving virtual machine boot storm issues, and is also a good fit to cloud service provider storage requirements. He characterised one part of the approach as being: "Your [banking application] is about to have a heart attack, and we have the pill."

Walton cited a coming case study where Microsoft tried to break a Hybrid ISE box by connecting three 32-core servers to a Hybrid ISE. They couldn't: the ISE keeping the servers maxed out instead.

Walton also said that Xiotech is not basing its approach to customers on being a hot box, although it is one. The approach is a high-end, solution-selling one and that suits his background of setting up sales infrastructures for Sequent and selling finance software for Triple Point Technology.

He says you can plug Hybrid ISEs in as storage platforms for banking applications that pose no increased burden in terms of operational complexity or manageability, and get: "the same performance as Fusion-io for one fifth of the price... [Xiotech's Hybrid ISE will be] a fully commercialised and integrated offering that just works."

So Xiotech is energised and going for it. It is going to play in the PCIE-flash-drive/flash array/tiered flash-and-hard-drive-array trenches, and tell customers it is the only supplier with the combination of major finance application integration, multi-vendor virtualisation support, best price/performance combination of flash speed and disk capacity, plus a support infrastructure and it all "just works".

That's a job to do, and the new funding is there to pay for the infrastructure and programmes needed to make it happen. Xiotech CEO Alan Atkinson has bought himself a new deck of cards, and now he and his team have got to play the hell out of them. ®

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