Q&A: What the new NetApp plus SolidFire combo means for storage buyers

As buyout closes, SolidFire's CEO outlines integration strategy, explains how merged companies will help IT build true cloud-scale infrastructure

Dave Wright SolidFire

This week, storage giant NetApp completed its buyout of SolidFire, one of the most successful early entrants in the flash storage market. In this installment of the IDG CEO Interview Series, SolidFire CEO Dave Wright talked with Chief Content Officer John Gallant about what drove the NetApp deal and what customers of the two companies can expect in the months ahead.

Wright, who will continue to lead SolidFire within NetApp, makes clear that flash is not some alternative storage technology any longer -- it's the primary storage option for cloud providers and enterprises as well. What differentiates SolidFire, according to Wright, is its ability to help customers build true scale-out infrastructure that solves the big problems IT is facing -- and that is only strengthened by the addition of NetApp's product portfolio. Wright also talked about customer successes and what lies ahead for the remaining members of the flash-only startup class of the past few years. (Spoiler alert: tough sledding).

Dave, let's start off with a little history of SolidFire. What did you guys try to tackle and how did you position yourself in the market when you launched in 2010?

What SolidFire saw six years ago when we started is that the way that enterprises and service providers are building their data centers is changing. The type of architecture that started with the public cloud is making its way into enterprise and service provider data centers. Virtualization has entered a new phase where the underlying infrastructure is being abstracted. And there is a new set of challenges facing data center administrators -- challenges related to scalability, automation, efficiency, multitenancy, performance management, all of these things that we didn't feel that traditional enterprise storage was really well-designed to address.

Quite frankly, a lot of the other early stage companies that were focused on flash and focused on performance weren't really focused on either. They were really only addressing one small piece of the problem, which was performance challenges, but there was a larger set of issues that we saw and that we ultimately wanted to address with SolidFire.

How is the enterprise buyer viewing flash now? What are you seeing in the market?

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