“I don’t understand . . .’ ” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”
“That’s the effect of living backwards,” the Queen said kindly: “it always makes one a little giddy at first- ”
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
-Lewis Carroll


As i’m on way for Emerging Technologies our sales kickoff, i wanted to take a look back into 2013 and reflect what  i have learned.

its also important to note that this is just my own personal view and probably my own “distortion zone” that i lived trough 2013. think of this post as a diary writing.

i joined XtremIO back in the beginning of 2013, the offer to do something completely different was compelling, up until now i was a vSpecialist basically responsible for everything VMware and EMC and suddenly, i have become a dedicated pre-sale to the XtremIO product but apart from just doing pre-sale i was giving (the official) responsibility to be a liaison point between our customers to R&D and our product management team, it is very enjoyable to see a customer request making it’s way to our product faster than ever (an example, will be our upcoming software release to XtremIO..)

so..sitting close to R&D has it’s advantages.

from April to November we launched our Direct Availability program (DA), basically running our product at customers sites and learning from potential bugs that may raise, we also took the opportunity to sharpen our software stability so when the GA release was ready (November 14th), we could release a well and stable product.

i think it will be fair to say that we were surprised by the overwhelming success of XtremIO, i mean, we knew we have a winner product that is every different from anything else that is out there but we also considered IDC and Gartner predicting that All Flash Arrays percentage out of the global storage marker will be fairly small, now, it IS fairly small and I’m very fortunate to work for a company that can sell the right product for the right use case, and Hi, in many cases, a VNX or a VMAX are a better product for the use case but what i wasn’t ready for was a term called “Buzzword Compliance”, basically, a customer wants a specific technology because it’s sexy, fresh and it change everything he know about the storage world. now, technically speaking the all flash array may not be the right product for this specific use case but because the customer wants to establish their data centers with the latest and not aged technology, they chose XtremIO.

so many X-Bricks units have been sold in 2013 and while I’m not allowed to publicly share any specific information, im sure it will be discuss in the next analyst / investment call.

what i also observed in 2013 is that the VDI market is booming, i know it’s a common joke to call every year (since roughly 2010) “the year of the VDI” but man, i was involved is some very large successful wins of XtremIO into the VDI use cases, im literally meeting with a mega large customer the week after next to help them design their supper large scale VDI environment.

i have also seen 2013 as the year of the DB’s of FLASH arrays, it started with a local customer that already runs their core DB’s on a dedicated flash tier on an hybrid array and the latency was kind of ok but their business requirement was to reduce the IO wait time in their core DB’s so immediately an XtremIO POC was conducted and and to our surprise the core DB’s wait time was amazing but the overall transaction layer didnt change, after a further examination, we noticed that the rest of the VM’s in this environment couldn’t keep up and since then, im seeing this in many other sites as well, FLASH changes everything and as such, you should holistically look at your environment and see where would FLASH give you the best benefit, not just your tipping point use case (core DB etc’)

lastly, the VMworld conference opened our eyes and confirmed our belief that when using XtremIO in a test / dev environment where the ability to provision / decommission many vm’s over time is a good sweet spot use case for us, basically, VMware were given 4 XtremIO X-Bricks for their Hands On Labs (HOL’s) and it was amazing to hear their tech ops team do not need to worry about storage bottlenecks during the conference.

The Raise (And Fall) Of Ziggy Stardust

2013 was also an year when was saw at least one AFA market leader that failed it to the finish line, in the very beginning of 2014 we saw another storage startup starting to close down, while i’m not trying to pick up on anyone in specific (hence why i didn’t mention names), it IS important to understand the “WHY”, i think that there is actually more than one reason but generally speaking, it had to do with either technologies that were relevant couple of years ago but unfortunately, the AFA market has moved on, if your are not consistently looking over your should for what advanced technologies are out there, you are very likely to be left behind and this is a very crowded market to begin with.

the other reason is cash burnout, there are many startups out there who prayed to be bought by the big players and since many (not all) of the large storage vendors already made up their mind avout their FLASH strategy, these startup companies found themselves not reaching Round B or C in their fund raising.

so, what’s going to happen in 2014?

more SSD’s drive will be sold which means a constant reduction of the SSD prices, that will mean an ever larger penetration into the comfort zone of the hybrid arrays, new software revision will come out and a larger integration into the EMC eco system will be made, this is in my eyes, the biggest strength of EMC and it always have been, we never sell a point product without the eco system integration, even at GA we already supported PowerPath/VE, VPELX and VPLEX RecoverPoint integration and this is important for our customers because it means that the integration of this disruptive technology into their hybrid based eco system is EASIER.

What Else?

Virtual SANS (VSAN)..

you hear a lot about VSAN with EMC products such as ScaleIO (has been GA for a long time now) and VMware own VSAN product (to be released in 2014) called “Vsan”

these are also very disruptive technologies but they are FAR more disruptive than just All FLASH arrays because while with an ALL FLASH Array, you still get a box and the box acts like a..storage box, with VSAN’s, you procure a software and you are using your own servers and you own HDD’s / SSD’s drives to build an hyper converge infrastructure, in my own opinion, these type of technologies will have to keep up with the matures of the “standard” storage arrays but it will come and FASTER than what everyone predict.

is there only one product that will win?

NO, different customers have different opinions about technologies and against, it’s important to understand that there isn’t right or wrong here.

one thing is guaranteed, in 2014 and the following years to come,  the storage market will change it’s face in a way and in a pace that it never has.

ok, but how is that related to the “trough the looking glass” ??

well, 2013 was also the year of the marketing clones, many AFA’s looks similar from a sales pitch perspective but there is a world apart between then in terms of their architecture, some competitors out there will try to show their disadvantages as advantages..in 2014, the GAP will become bigger and clearer.

customers knows best

interesting time..

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