DataGravity axes gear, sheds staff as it pulls away from black hole

Bye-bye hardware and hello big vision

+Comment The DataGravity array is no more as Paula Long reorganizes her company and axes some of its workers.

This follows on the layoffs we heard about in February in which the staff roster was downsized from 120-strong.

Long and John Joseph founded the New Hampshire biz in 2012 around a concept of data-aware storage: a DataGravity array with software that monitors accesses at the point of storage. It has taken in $92m in three funding rounds in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The product was launched in August 2014 and provided a hybrid flash-disk storage resource with software that had rich metadata recording and reporting of things like file creation, keyword content, document changes and accesses, plus data protection and collaboration features.

A year later, DataGravity updated its software in all these areas.

It has become clear its value is in software and not hardware. In future, DataGravity software will run on third-party arrays.

Long blogged on Monday: "Customers want all of their data to be data-aware, no matter where it lives," adding: "Companies that don’t listen to their customers and market don’t succeed."

She continued: "We are reorganizing our company to solve the bigger challenge companies have securing and gaining insights from their data. I feel a personal loss for the individuals that will not be continuing with us on this journey."

Is DataGravity in trouble? "We are not. What we are is a company that is seizing an opportunity to expand beyond our original vision for the sake of our customers," Long wrote.

Existing customers will be "fully they supported and can continue on the data-aware mission. This has no immediate impact on them."

She didn't reveal any details of DataGravity's new direction: "I wish I could tell you more about our new direction. I can’t right now, but stay tuned and we will share our mission."

Reg comment

The idea that storage array software can monitor array accesses and do a better job of managing security than other IT estate security resources is relatively new. Establishing a need for DataGravity array management software that does this task as a separate addition to other array's controlling software could be tricky.

Why, for example, do I need to run a NetApp array with its ONTAP software, which already has its own data protecton and reporting functions, and then load up DataGravity software to run on the array controllers alongside or integrated with ONTAP?

DataGravity will have the same problem with EMC, HPE, IBM or any other supplier's arrays. Any intent to have its software running on other vendors' gear will need a partnering deal with the manufacturer. What's the incentive for EMC to allow DataGravity software to run on VNX arrays alongside or within the VNX OS which runs, get this, on array controller hardware sized, in CPU, memory and bandwidth terms, to run the VNX OS alone.

If DataGravity software runs in a server hooked up to the array then it becomes just another third-party security product using whatever available access methods there are to get at the array's metadata. If it actually runs on the array then it needs a strategic-level deal with the array supplier.

This looks to be a huge challenge with the risk that DataGravity tries to become an OEM supplier of a feature needed by storage arrays, against a background where array suppliers, including virtual array suppliers like hyper-converged vendors, prefer to sell their own unique software.

The outcome of this DataGravity pivot is not clear cut and the company could get sucked into a black hole from which it never emerges. ®




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