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GreenBytes founder steps aside for new blood

Stephen O'Donnell to run VDI accelerating appliance show

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Greenbytes is a startup whose IO Offload Engine accelerates VDI. It's just announced a new and experienced CEO, Stephen O'Donnell, who will accelerate it.

The company, previously run by Bob Petrocelli, who founded it in 2007 (background here.), produced an all-flash array called Solidarity which used ZFS software, albeit with re-written and much-improved deduplication.

It was one of several all-flash array startups such as Nimbus Storage, Pure Storage, SolidFire, Kaminario, and Whiptail. Latterly Skyera has joined the fray, EMC has its XtremIO acquisition bringing out its all flash array, and IBM has bought TMS for its RamSan flash array technology.

Here's an obvious problem; how does a vendor separate itself from this pack? GreenBytes took a VDI focus route and walked away from the general purpose All-flash array market.

It developed Solidarity throughout the year. A three bit per cell TLC NAND version was introduced. VDI was found to be an obvious use case for Solidarity, with a Netherlands customer supporting 10,000 VDI instances off one array, at a list price cost of $11.90/VDI.

$12 million B-round funding came into GreenBytes in May from Generation Investment Management, a fund founded by former US vice president Al Gore. Coincidentally this has a UK office and O'Donnell has a base there. Connection? Almost certainly according to people we have spoken too who are close to the situation.

Stephen O'Donnell became GreenByte's executive chairman in July (. He has had an eventful career after finishing a run at BT as its global head of data centre operations. This involved a period as the EMEA managing director of analysis firm ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group) followed being CEO of MEEZA, a large data centre and managed services business in Quatar. He is also a member of the advisory board at Violin Memory.

Now he has become the CEO with Bob Petrocelli relinquishing that title but retaining his chief technology officer responsibility. O'Donnell carries on as board chairman at GreenBytes. Petrocelli's LinkedIn entry shows the CTO role now and not the CEO-ship.

This is an arranged set of moves with no dissension. In effect GreenBytes has bought in an experienced CEO to run things as the founder runs the CTO office instead of the whole company, recognising that new skills are needed. This a role change sequence that OCZ failed to execute, which caused the ousting of CEO and founder Ryan Petersen, and his replacement by board member Ralph Schmitt.

Part of O'Donnell's job is to gear up the company's infrastructure as sales grow. He will work closely with newly appointed Global Sales SVP, Brett Johnson, in ramping up global sales efforts and strategic partnerships. It recently announced the expansion of business operations in Europe with the growth of a London team and the opening of an Amsterdam office, adding engineering, sales and marketing personnel.

With is data reduction capability and its location out of the array-server data path, the IO Offload Engine can partner both disk and flash and hybrid disk/flash arrays to accelerate applications and reduce their data, in app markets GreenBytes has no interest in entering.

This positioning removes GreenBytes as a direct competitor from the companies mentioned above as well as virtually all other disk and hybrid disk array vendors and opens up numerous partnering possibilities. We understand OEM relationships are being explored.

VDI-focussed vendors like Tintri will be competing strongly with GreenBytes.

O'Donnel's canned quote stated; “With a solid foundation and collective laser focus on solving the performance, cost and complexity problems around desktop virtualisation, I am committed to furthering GreenBytes’ efforts in establishing itself as a premier brand and solution provider in the global virtualisation marketplace.”

Bob Petrocelli, GreenBytes founder and CTO, was happy too; “Having him step into the CEO role was a happy decision for all of us. Steve has been a tremendous asset to our team since joining GreenBytes as Chairman earlier this year."

Steve Duplessie, ESG founder and Senior Analyst, was fulsome; "Operating data centres all over the world, Steve knows the difference between a novel idea and a practical need.  is involvement instantly gives GreenBytes credibility on a global level.”

Expect GreenBytes to grow like a monster because O'Donnell has the bit between his teeth and really wants to get motoring. ®

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