Silicon Valley gets much edgier around cloud data management

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An exclusive technology tour was arranged for international press and analysts and Data Economy was invited on it.

Data Economy attended an IT infrastructure tour of Silicon Valley last week, meeting a dozen firms operating in data storage and management and it was clear that the hybrid cloud connectivity and edge data processing spaces were heating up.

Firms we met across the Valley, as part of the IT Press Tour of the region, ranged from data management heavyweights like Commvault and VMware to startups that many have probably never even heard of. But they all had something to say about the rapidly changing data market and how they planned to hone their go-to-market strategy. Who knows, one of them could be the new VMware?

DataDirect Networks, otherwise known as DDN, have been in the news recently for acquiring key companies in the enterprise storage space, not least struggling flash storage outfit Tintri. The company told press and analyst attendees on the tour that the company would now be using the Tintri brand to spearhead all its product and service efforts globally in the enterprise space.

At the moment, around 70% of the company’s business comes from the scale computing market including servicing the needs of high performance computing (HPC) and big data storage. But with Tintri now fully in the fold it expects to greatly increase the 30% of sales activity it currently sees in the enterprise market, including at the edge.

Tom Ellery, general manager and senior vice president of field operations for Tintri by DDN, said: “We are now working with Ericsson as a partner to deliver 5G storage stacks at base stations in the future, and are already busy with delivering flash storage solutions in autonomous vehicles, for instance.

“When it comes to storage between on-premise and the cloud, there is certainly a bigger hardware story to come.”

The company also acquired software-defined storage firm Nexenta Systems this year, and around 120 telcos already use the software at the edge.

Ellery said there would be a bigger Nexenta story in the enterprise in 2020 as more firms moved to choose an AI-enabled solution for their edge storage requirements. The software is already offered as an integrated solution sold in storage stacks from Ericsson, Dell and HPE, for instance.

Another company that Data Economy visited was StorCentric. It was founded last year as a private equity investment vehicle for storage supplier Drobo. And since then it has acquired three companies that are building up its flash and cloud data management offer.

August 2018 saw the purchase of the Nexsan storage array business, and in Summer 2019, backup firm Retrospect and flash array vendor Vexata were added to the portfolio. After the acquisitions, StorCentric says it has around 40,000 enterprise customers among its sales base and $50m in annual revenues.

Mihir Shah, CEO of StorCentric, said: “We acquire technology that is battle-tested, which quickens our entry to market when it comes to development.” On the emerging edge market opportunity, Shah said the firm would be using its Drobo business to help build up its sales in this area.

Fujitsu is one company that is using StorCentric’s technology as part of its product stack development for its own customers, which is why we met StorCentric at the Fujitsu Solution Center in Sunnyvale. Fujitsu uses this facility to develop technology offerings in the cloud, 5G, smart cities, IoT and artificial intelligence spaces.

Data Dynamics is an intelligent file management solutions firm that is expanding, to help enterprises analyse, move and manage critical data across hybrid, cloud and object-based storage infrastructures.

Its StorageX platform identifies “cold” files and puts them all – without leaving a “stub” – into cheaper forms of storage. The platform was recently bolstered with the company’s acquisition of Infintus, a data analytics company that automates and analyses unstructured data using AI.

This, combined with the company’s reseller agreement with Lenovo and a new one just signed with NetApp in the data centre, puts the company in a good position to expand in 2020.

Mark Ward, an adviser and consultant to the company, said: “2020 is going to be a big year of expansion as we are aiming to appoint two or three partners in each major territory outside the US.”

He said other technology partners in addition to Lenovo and NetApp would also be appointed and that the company was planning a UK office too.

Next on the tour was Komprise. Basic storage costs are currently low in the cloud, but who knows what prices will be like as more enterprises put more of their data in them.

Komprise was visted in Campbell, CA, to see how it intended to approach the cloud data management market going forward. Rather like Data Dynamics above, it aims to make it easier to choose which data is cold and which data is “hot” – otherwise important.

That way, customers can decide how much they want to spend storing it and accessing it for business use. Komprise president and COO Krishna Subramanian, claimed: “Any customer can save 70% off the cost of each terabyte of data they have managed by us.”

A cloud-based console allows users to switch their data between clouds and on-premise storage systems after using the data analytics provided by the firm to estimate its usage and price its cost.

On the IT Press Tour, data backup and security vendor HYCU announced the general availability of its data protection-as-a-service offering Protégé.

Simon Taylor, HYCU CEO, said: “It’s now become essential to provide a data management solution that complements the cloud of choice while simplifying key processes like data migration and disaster recovery.”

At the moment, Protégé only fully supports Google Cloud Platform of the main public clouds available, but Azure and AWS are said to be coming in early 2020. It provides data protection, data mobility and disaster recovery, along with lift and shift applications from on-premise to a cloud.

HYCU claims to have 1,200 customers globally already but sees 2020 as a big growth year through appointing more service providers to sell its product, while at the same time earning themselves a big chunk of recurring revenue.

Japan is a major focus for expansion in 2020, along with other markets, said Taylor. While he wouldn’t reveal total sales, he said the firm had seen revenue growth of 300% this year and he expected a similar increase in 2020.

This is the first instalment of what Data Economy heard on the IT Press Tour. The second instalment can now be read here.