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SolidFire bags blue chip execs, hopes storage street cred will follow

Start-up hires seasoned HP 3PAR bods

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When a flash start-up gets a product for enterprise cloud service providers out the door it needs to become enterprise-like itself. SolidFire has done just that and recruited a trio of blue-chip storage execs.

SolidFire makes modular scale-out flash arrays, with quality of service facilities, for cloud service providers. These respond faster to data access requests coming in from accessing servers than disk drive arrays or even flash-accelerated disk drive arrays. They also scale better, with SolidFire's arrays scaling up to 100 nodes.

The first shiny bright new exec is RJ Weigel, who becomes the firm's president. He comes from HP where he was VP for Americas Global accounts in the storage organisation, coming into HP via the 3PAR acquisition. At 3PAR he was world-wide VP for sales and field ops. He's also served time in NetApp and Cisco.

Another HP-3PAR guy, Tim Pitcher, becomes SolidFire's international VP. He held a similar position at 3PAR.

John Hillyard becomes SolidFire's CFO. He also has an HP connection, but not much of one, having been CFO at iSCSI storage startup LeftHand Networks, which was bought by HP. After that he was CFO at DataLogix. We're told: "He has a wealth of experience leading securities offerings, raising venture funding and coordinating merger and acquisitition transactions."

SolidFire's marketing VP, Jay Prassl, happens to have been employee number five at LeftHand Networks, where he spent the last 10 years, and was most recently responsible for the management of the full HP/LeftHand product line in Canada, US, and Latin America.

There is a consistent theme here of recruiting execs with experience at a storage start-up that was bought by HP. Perhaps that's a potential SolidFire strategy: get bought by HP.

Prassl said of the three new hires: "These three folks allow us to scale, avoid mistakes others have made in the past, and grow quickly."

Weigel said SolidFire's "technology and IP is rock-solid," and "our job is to add more horsepower to the team." SolidFire has a keen interest in international cloud service providers. Pitcher said: "Cloud service providers are our route to the market [and] we're looking to secure relationships with them directly."

But... "We will have channel partners, in Asia especially, and in some European countries. We will be building a robust channel programme."

He said: "Flash is a delivery mechanism and not a tectonic shift. Service providers and the cloud are the two major perspectives." There is a shift to IT delivered from service providers and the cloud and SolidFire aims to take advantage of that.

Founder Dave Wright retains the SolidFire CEO slot, and unlike GreenBytes' founder Bob Petrocelli appears unwilling to hand his hat to a seasoned CEO just yet. ®

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