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Trends in Green Storage Authors: Natalie Lerner, Greg Schulz, RealWire News Distribution, Bob Gourley, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

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Cisco Buys Whiptail Continuing the SSD Storage I/O Flash Cash Cache Dash

Why the nand flash SSD cash dash and cache dance?

Congratulations to Virident for being bought today for $645 Million USD by Western Digital (WD). Virident a nand flash PCIe card startup vendor has been around for several years and in the last year or two has gain more industry awareness as a competitor to FusionIO among others.

There is a nand flash solid state devices (SSD) cash-dash occurring, not to mention fast cache dances that is occurring the IT and data infrastructure (e.g. storage and IO) sector specifically.

Why the nand flash SSD cash dash and cache dance?
Yesterday hard disk drive (HDD) vendor Western Digital (WD) bought Virident a nand flash PCIe Solid State Device (SSD) card vendor for $650M, and today networking and server vendor Cisco bought Whiptail a SSD based storage system startup for a little over $400M. Here is an industry trends perspective post that I did yesterday on WD and Virident.

Obviously this begs a couple of questions, some of which I raised in my post yesterday about WD, Virident, Seagate, FusionIO and others.

Questions include
Does this mean Cisco is getting ready to take on EMC, NetApp, HDS and its other storage partners who leverage the Cisco UCS server?

IMHO at least near term no more than they have in the past, nor any more than EMCs partnership with Lenovo indicates a shift in what is done with vBlocks. On the other hand, some partners or customers may be as nervous as a long-tailed cat next to a rocking chair (Google it if you don’t know what it means ;).

Is Cisco going to continue to offer Whiptail SSD storage solutions on a standalone basis, or pull them in as part of solutions similar to what it has done on other acquisitions?

Storage I/O trends

IMHO this is one of the most fundamental questions and despite the press release and statements about this being a UCS focus, a clear sign of proof for Cisco is how they reign in (if they go that route) Whiptail from being sold as a general storage solution (with SSD) as opposed to being part of a solution bundle.

How will Cisco manage its relationship in a coopitition manner cooperating with the likes of EMC in the joint VCE initiative along with FlexPod partner NetApp among others? Again time will tell.

Also while most of the discussions about NetApp have been around the UCS based FlexPod business, there is the other side of the discussion which is what about NetApp E Series storage including the SSD based EF540 that competes with Whiptail (among others).

Many people may not realize how much DAS storage including fast SAS, high-capacity SAS and SATA or PCIe SSD cards Cisco sells as part of UCS solutions that are not vBlock, FlexPod or other partner systems.

NetApp and Cisco have partnerships that go beyond the FlexPod (UCS and ONTAP based FAS) so will be interesting to see what happens in that space (if anything). This is where Cisco and their UCS acquiring Whiptail is not that different from IBM buying TMS to complement their servers (and storage) while also partnering with other suppliers, same holds true for server vendors Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle among others.

Can Cisco articulate and convince their partners, customers, prospects and others that the whiptail acquisition is more about direct attached storage
(DAS) which includes both internal dedicated and external shared device?

Keep in mind that DAS does not have to mean Dumb A$$ Storage as some might have you believe.

Then there are the more popular questions of who is going to get bought next, what will NetApp, Dell, Seagate, Huawei and a few others do?

Oh, btw, funny how have not seen any of the pubs mention that Whiptail CEO Dan Crain is a former Brocadian (e.g. former Brocade CTO) who happens to be a Cisco competitor, just saying.

Congratulations to Dan and his crew and enjoy life at Cisco.

Stay tuned as the fall 2013 nand flash SSD cache dash and cash dance activities are well underway.

Ok, nuff said (for now).


Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.