This is only the beginning folks … only the beginning.
FusionIO was, quite arguably, in trouble. They needed a buyer to take them to the next level, and to avoid being made completely irrelevant. SanDisk is a natural partner for them. They have the fab and chips, FusionIO has a product. SanDisk has a vision for a flash-only data center.
What’s interesting about this is that Fusion was sort of the last independent enterprise class PCI Flash vendors. There are a few smaller shops running around. LSI sold its Nytro bits off to Seagate. HGST/WD bought our friends at Virident. Intel has their own PCIe card. Micron has theirs, but they are a relatively smaller player. I don’t think Samsung has a PCIe card version. Toshiba bought the remnants of OCZ, which included a PCIe card. One we tested in the past, and … well … hilarity ensued.
Trust me, don’t ask.
So, unless I am wrong, there really aren’t any independent enterprise class PCIe folks out there anymore. Which is interesting. I didn’t expect PCIe flash to last as long as it did … in part … because it is intrinsically non-hotswappable. So if you are deploying it in mission critical areas, you need to build pairs of servers in fail-over configs.
Virident has technology to reduce the impact of flash failure built into their controllers. Not sure anyone else does.
Back to the business side. I’d expect to see Violin go next. Like FusionIO, they are in trouble. They are, to a degree, attempting to expand into our area, and compete against tightly coupled machines with massive IO systems, heavily tuned kernels.
Possibly Nimble, though they are holding their own, and not in a bad way like Violin.
Pure, Tegile, Tintri, Nutanix etc. have made acquisitions in this space more costly due to their IPO prep and valuations. I’d expect to see the smaller players in this space snarfed up this summer.
There is always a frothy acquisition and girding for battle around major paradigm changes. Spinning rust being used for lower cost things that tape was once used for, and tape being relegated to where it is headed is a massive change*. All flash data centers are on the way, and flash capacity is growing massively. I’m under NDA so I can’t say what I am aware of or from whom, but you should expect to hear of some very surprising things soon (assuming they come to fruition, which I am betting on).
And as a tangent, I noted that IBM, EMC, and HDS were all claiming the title of flash superiority as they shipped 17-19PB of flash last year. Curious, we shipped a bit north of 0.5PB of flash last year. 1/34th to 1/40th of the big boys. And our flash is probably a bit faster …
* Yeah, I know, some industry stalwarts will disagree strongly with my characterization of tape and disk, not to mention flash … the proof is in the pudding as it were.