Dell & EMC in the limelight – but what else is happening in storage?

Image of a light bulb to reflect innovation in the onsite storage market

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Dell – EMC merger has generated thousands of blog posts, articles and opinion pieces as everyone tries to understand what the impact will be on the rest of the storage industry. But away from the headlines, there are significant developments afoot that may have far greater repercussions.

Over the last seven years venture capital firms have been investing heavily in new technologies and concepts – particularly flash arrays. In fact, over $6 billion worth of capital has been funnelled into storage companies as investors try to define the ‘next big thing’. 

And the investment is paying off. Last week we looked at the acquisition of SolidFire, itself an upstart start-up snapped up to help bolster NetApp’s range of all flash arrays.

It’s not all about the cloud

Perhaps most interesting of all is the way in which investment is going against conventional wisdom. Where analysts are repeatedly discussing the benefits of cloud computing and storage, venture capitalists are still putting their money into on-site technologies.

Take DataGravity for instance. Using a combination of hardware and software, DataGravity is designed to simplify big data collection and processing for mid-sized organizations. In theory these “data aware storage” systems could form part of a hybrid cloud deployment, but at the moment DataGravity is focused on on-site implementations. And by securing $30 million in Series B investment, it would appear that venture capital funds agree with their approach.

DataGravity is not alone. Qumulo is another start-up building intelligent storage software designed to help businesses make better sense of their vast data sets. Although the specifics of their platform remain relatively secret, Qumulo has attracted total funding of $67 million. And again, these products are targeted at on-site data stores, indicating broad confidence that many stores will remain in-house for the foreseeable future.

How DataGravity or Qumulo products interact with existing infrastructure remains unclear. But the fact that venture capital funds are willing to invest heavily in non-cloud technologies indicates that the on-site datacenter still has a significant part to play in the modern enterprise.