In mid-November, a handful of Tintri’s biggest thinkers gathered around for our annual predictions conversation. It generates internal conversation about our product roadmap, and potentially a little press. In late November, our predictions were picked up by a number of publications and bloggers, the first of which was:
There will be blood. 2016 will be marked by consolidation and storage start-ups exiting the market. The Dell/EMC acquisition is merely the starting point. Other large, established storage companies will most certainly feel the pressure this year, which will lead them to (1) make acquisitions, or (2) go private. As for the next gen storage vendors, given the billions invested in storage startups, the companies with less than a few hundred million in funding won't be able to scale fast enough to survive. This shakeout started in 2015-it's going to get messier in 2016.
We didn’t even have to wait until 2016 for this prediction to come true. On Dec. 21, 2015, NetApp announced it was acquiring SolidFire for $870 million. This generated a pretty substantial news cycle, but it didn’t generate any value for NetApp customers—as far as the storage market is concerned, it changes nothing. Here are three reasons why:
1. NetApp is still a mess.
NetApp is struggling, as evidenced by declining product revenue and exiting talent. SolidFire isn’t a flotation device nor is it plugging any holes in the NetApp line-up. After the acquisition NetApp had four flash platforms (they’ve since thrown FlashRay overboard reducing the count of flash platforms to three). And they have a poor track record of integrating acquired technology. The acquisition just adds to the confusion and uncertainty swirling around NetApp.
2. It’s all still LUNs and volumes.
At the core of NetApp’s struggles is a growing divide between the company’s physical-era storage architecture and its increasingly virtualized customers. SolidFire is yet another company with an outdated LUN-and-volume based storage foundation. Its all-flash platform is now table stakes—and so SolidFire simply offers NetApp customers more LUNs and volumes to manage, not material differentiation to close the divide.
3. Cloud service providers can’t get any satisfaction.
SolidFire has long billed itself as the preferred storage for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). But, with no VM level functionality, it’s a poor fit for CSP requirements—a potential reason why SolidFire has recently tried to move into the enterprise market. An example is QoS, which SolidFire allows its customers to set at the LUN or volume level. But that QoS applies to ALL the VMs in that LUN or volume—despite the fact that those VMs could have very different needs. If that same customer could set QoS at the individual VM level, they could ensure a mission critical VM gets all the IOPS it needs while capping a rogue VM demanding more than its fair share. In the case of a CSP, they could use per-VM QoS to establish tiers of service, offering differentiated services and generating more revenue.