How storage became the hot new startup trend

Solid state flash drives are a major driver in storage startup growth.

servers data center (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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If you were speculating about what the hottest areas in technology are, you'd maybe pick Apple's snowy-white gadgets, or possibly self-parking cars. Perhaps counter-culture drone racing, even.

However, the Wall Street Journal said last week that data storage is one of the hottest Silicon Valley sectors right now.

It says that "technology for helping companies store data—the high-tech equivalent of filing cabinets—has become crucial to speeding operations to make companies nimbler," and thus is gaining more corporate spending.


Storage-related startups are on the heels of incumbent tech companies, such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, EMC and NetApp, the Journal says.

The article mentions startups such as Tintri, Pure Storage, Nutanix, and SimpliVity.

It says that companies such as Pure, KaminarioViolin Memory, and SolidFire are differentiating themselves by storing data on faster-access flash memory, rather than hard drives.

Tegile, Reduxio Sysstems, and Nimble Storage are mentioned as offering a mix of flash and hard drives to "provide both increased speed with large storage capacities."

Hyperconverged hardware

Nutanix and SimpliVity combine servers and storage "in 'hyperconverged' hardware that can be simpler to use and faster than using separate boxes," Clark adds.

Hyperconverged storage is a software-defined system that combines storage, computing, and networking.

Clark rounds out the hot startups in this space with Scality, PernixData, and Formation Data Systems, who pitch software-only for "low-cost commodity servers."


But this interest in storage isn't driven by just the data access speed gains obtained by the use of sprightly flash drives. Labor is a player too, the Wall Street Journal article explains.

Traditional storage systems often use "staffers to manage backups and maximize performance, by distributing data to various devices. Newer devices are designed to eliminate or automate many such tasks," Clark says. 

Flash storage

However, performance is really the seller: IO is faster.

"The number-one reason why customers are adopting it is because of performance," Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekaran said of Flash storage in a recent Bloomberg article.

"The second reason is ease of use and management. The products are inherently fast and easy to manage," he added.

Notably, flash-based storage is growing faster than anticipated, the Bloomberg article says.


Bloomberg's article mentions EMC, Pure, Violin Memory, Nimbus Data Systems, EMC XtremIO as players in the area.


Cost is another driving factor. While flash has historically been more expensive than traditional storage, prices are coming down.

The fact that the storage takes up less space in data centers and needs less electricity is also a driver, according to the Bloomberg article.

IDC is "projecting 2015 sales of $2.24 billion, up from a previous $1.8 billion" projection due in part to pricing declines, but also "customers seeing benefits from faster performance and lower administrative costs," says Bass.

Big Data

And of course it will be Big Data, and the massive amounts of future data that we'll be collecting from the billions of IoT sensors, not to mention social network marketing analytics and the rest of it.

So, we'll be accessing it nice and fast. Next up, just what to do with it all.

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