Monday, March 30, 2009

SSDs: WD acquires SilconSystems

March 30, 2009 – As further evidence that solid-state disk (SSD) drives may actually live up to their hype, Western Digital today announced its acquisition of SiliconSystems, for a reasonable $65 million in cash. SiliconSystems specializes in SSDs for embedded systems.

According to Western Digital, embedded SSDs accounted for approximately one-third (or about $400 million) of the total revenues for SSDs last year. SiliconSystems’ strengths have been in the communications, industrial equipment, medical, aerospace and military markets, and investors in the company include Samsung and SanDisk.

It was no secret that SATA drive specialist WD was planning to increase its presence in the enterprise space, but its next anticipated move was expected to be Fibre Channel and/or SAS drives. WD could still make those moves, but an (inexpensive) acquisition that jump starts the company into the nascent market for enterprise-class SSDs (as well as SSDs for markets such as “netbooks”) seems like a prescient power play.

In addition to the fact that Samsung and SanDisk are investors in SiliconSystems, it’s interesting to note that the company was founded by a former STEC executive. STEC is the early market leader in the enterprise SSD space, having locked up (exclusive for now) OEM wins with big guns such as EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Sun, and others. It’s unlikely that those big guns will stick with a single supplier for SSDs, so WD’s entry into the market gives it a shot at second-source deals with some of those vendors.

Assuming that SSD manufacturers and their OEMs can get SSD prices down to a point that end users will actually start buying them, the SSD battle could prove very interesting over the next year.

In other SSD-related news today, startup Pliant Technology announced $15 million in Series C funding. Pliant sells Enterprise Flash Drives (EFDs) based on SSD technology and the SAS interface, which it began shipping to OEMs late last year.

For more information on SSDs, visit our SSD Topic Center

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cisco's UCS: Winners and losers

March 24, 2009 – Cisco’s recent announcement of its Unified Computing System (UCS) blade server promises to upset the apple cart in the server market, with a number of potential winners and losers. For InfoStor senior editor Kevin Komiega’s coverage of the announcement, click here
Assuming that Cisco is successful with the UCS (and eventually it will be, although it will probably take a long time), the potential losers are the existing server giants, such as HP and Dell (both of which derive about 10% of their overall revenues from the enterprise server market), IBM and Sun. (I won’t get into the IBM-Sun controversy because I have nothing to add to the rumors.)

The biggest winner in this announcement is VMware, but there could also be some winners on the storage side – most notably Cisco partners EMC and NetApp, but vendors such as Emulex and QLogic also signed on as UCS supporters and could get a nice coattails ride if Cisco succeeds (based largely on their dominant HBA market shares but also because of their expertise in virtual server environments).

Cisco (wisely) decided not to tackle storage on its own, but as the networking giant continues to extend well beyond its traditional roots it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the company jumps squarely into the storage fray – either on its own or via a game-changing acquisition.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Check out the new

March 19, 2009 -- We recently launched a new and, yes, much improved Web site. In addition to an enhanced look and feel, now includes a number of elements that will make it easier for our visitors to use the site as their primary source for breaking industry news and for researching storage technologies, trends, products, and companies.

For example, the site has a new architecture organized around Topic Centers (e.g., SAN, NAS, storage management software, backup and recovery, disk arrays, etc.) and subtopics to facilitate research by specific technologies. Clicking on a topic category takes you to a landing page that is rich in content on that specific technology. Example: virtualization.

We’ve also improved our internal search functionality, which is based on the Google Search Appliance (and we sincerely apologize to those of you who recently experienced problems with our old search engine).

We also added blogs from me (obviously) and senior editor Kevin Komiega.

And we spiffed up our existing site components, including:

--More daily posts in our News and Analysis section
--More Business Briefs covering partnerships and other business deals
--Expanded coverage of new product announcements in the From the Wires section
--Videos from sponsors and industry analysts and consultants
--An archive of all of our Webcasts
--More white papers
--QuickVote reader polls
--In-depth Lab Reviews from openBench Labs and the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)
--And a Financials section that enables you to easily track the financials on specific vendors and the storage industry in general

Check out the new site and let us know what you think. Respond below or email me at

Monday, March 16, 2009

IT spending: Storage the only bright spot

March 17, 2009 -- If you’re a storage vendor, the following news could be interpreted as a glass half empty or a glass half full. (In either case, take with a grain of salt.) A recent report covering planned expenditures across 26 technology categories (including virtually all IT hardware, software and services categories) revealed that storage is the only category poised for overall growth in 2009.

That’s the glass half full part. The glass half empty part is that, on average, storage spending is expected to increase only marginally (less than 1%). However, spending on other IT hardware categories is expected to decline 2% to 3% on average, and in some cases much more.

The survey polled 450 IT professionals in the US and UK, and was a joint effort between Millward Brown, Research International and Lightspeed Research, in conjunction with LinkedIn.

“In times of recession, there is a heightened need to protect what you have, and in many ways storage is to technology what insurance is to financial services; with data increasing exponentially and with the appetite for risk low, [storage] is an area in which you simply don’t want to compromise,” says Steve Ingledew, managing director of Millward Brown’s Technology Practice. Music to my ears.

Not surprisingly, the survey showed that the majority of respondents (69% of the IT professionals in larger enterprises) cited virtualization as the top IT trend over the next five years.