Storage industry muckracker Chris Mellor was at it again, digging deeper than anyone could imagine, finding and publishing the amount of money EMC spent on stealth startup DSSD. I highly recommend reading his piece, but if you need to know now, it was $1Billion.
That is a lot of money for a startup without customers and I believe it was spent for very good reasons. Here is how I see it:
1) The flash array business is growing rapidly and the all-disk array business is flat, or declining. In other words, flash-based arrays are kicking all-disk arrays to the curb faster than you can say “all-disk is dead”.
2) Pure Storage is putting a major hurt on EMC in head to head competition. This statement is inflammatory, but I believe it’s accurate.
3) XtremIO is doing OK, but it is not a dominating product. EMC realizes it needs one and believes DSSD could their Neo.
4) EMC realizes that the enterprise storage industry is in for a major shakeup over the next 3-5 years. EMC will not allow itself to be left on the sideline if its current product lines become dinosaurs overnight.
5) Product life-cycles and customer buying-cycles for flash-based products are being extended from 3 years to 5 (ala Pure & Tegile), and in the future may be extended even further. EMC needs products that compete on that basis and DSSD may be a platform that provides extended life-cycles for their customers.
6) DSSD will allow EMC to compete for high-performance analytics opportunities that might otherwise go to Exadata or other HPC systems by offering a lower-cost, slightly-lower-performance flash storage alternative to all that costly RAM.