Storage Soup

May 25, 2017  10:03 AM

Pure Storage flash lineup could be billion-dollar baby

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Pure Storage

Pure Storage executives claim the flash pioneer is on pace for $1 billion in revenue for 2017, plus its first profitable quarter by the end of the year.

Neither goal is assured, but both seem possible following Pure’s first-quarter earnings report Wednesday. The vendor reported $183 million, up 31% from last year. It cut losses only slightly to $62 million compared to $64 million a year ago, but execs claim spending decreases in the second half of the year, along with revenue growth, should bring it past break-even for the first time.

Pure forecast revenue of $214 million to $222 million this quarter and from $975 million to $1.025 billion for the year. That annual prediction includes a second-half surge in revenue and Pure will have to hit the midpoint of its annual revenue to achieve the $1 billion goal.

CEO Scott Dietzen cited the $1 billion and profitability goals and gushed “all of that is setting up 2017 to be Pure’s best year yet,” on the earnings call Wednesday night.

Of course, there is still a lot of 2017 left. Dietzen said he is counting on Pure Storage flash products taking advantage of hot industry trends. He expects to cash in on the emergence of  Express (NVMe) solid-state drives (SSDs) with new Pure Storage FlashArray//X systems, continued growth of Pure Storage FlashBlade unstructured data storage, and the need for storage for the emerging private cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning markets.

Dietzen said FlashBlade, which became generally available at the start of 2017, is selling at twice the rate FlashArray did when it first launched nearly six years ago. “FlashBlade is transforming the unstructured data market in the same way FlashArray revolutionized structured data,” he said.

Pure Storage FlashArray//X is another key to Pure’s achieving its goals. While Pure currently trails Dell EMC, NetApp and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in all-flash revenue, the vendor is looking to pick up organizations that want the improved speed of NVMe over current SSDs. Neither Dell EMC, NetApp nor HPE have an all-NVMe system yet, although all major flash storage vendors will eventually add NVMe.

“We see a new set of use cases that NVMe opens up,” said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure’s vice president of products. “Certainly, faster database type workloads … but we’re also really going after consolidation of cloud providers. A lot of the cloud vendors out there have really consolidated on server DAS over the past few years, and now we have an opportunity to go in there with NVMe and take the flash out of each of those servers and consolidate it at the top of the rack to drive more efficiencies for them.”

Dietzen said Pure is looking to become the storage of choice for “roughly 80% of enterprise workloads not currently a candidate for the public cloud.” He said enterprises are turning to private cloud in great numbers.

“While we occasionally compete with the big three public clouds … our customers use Pure’s data platform in conjunction with the public cloud, particularly for datasets that are too large to move across the internet,” he said.

May 17, 2017  3:38 PM

Veeam Availability Suite v10 adds CDP, cloud and physical support

Paul Crocetti Paul Crocetti Profile: Paul Crocetti

NEW ORLEANS – Veeam Software opened its user conference with the launch of the latest version of its data protection software, moving deeper into cloud and physical device support.

Veeam Availability Suite v10 rolled out today at VeeamON adds continuous data protection, support for network-attached storage and native object storage. The object storage support includes data on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Veeam Availability Suite v10 frees up primary backup storage with policy-driven automated data management for long-term retention and compliance. The major upgrade to Veeam’s flagship product is in technical preview.

“V 10 takes [Veeam] to a multi-cloud world full speed,” said co-founder Ratmir Timashev. “V 10 is where everything comes together.”

Veeam Continuous Data Protection (CDP) replicates data to private or managed public clouds. The default recovery point objectives setting in Veeam Availability Suite v10 is 15 seconds. CDP is commonly found in data protection products, especially those emphasizing data recovery.

Other enhancements and features in Veeam Availability Suite include:

  • Veeam Availability for AWS. Delivered through a partnership between Veeam and cloud backup and disaster recovery provider N2WS, the feature offers cloud-native, agentless backup and availability to protect and recover AWS applications and data. Availability for AWS is geared toward helping enterprises migrate to and manage a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment.
  • Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows. Veeam announced this feature in August, but it became generally available Wednesday. It is designed to provide availability for Windows-based physical servers, workstations and endpoints, as well as Windows workloads running in public clouds.

Veeam previously released its Agent for Linux, which provides availability for public cloud and physical workloads hosted by Linux-based servers and workstations running on premises or in the public cloud.

“You need an availability strategy that’s going to extend beyond your virtualized workloads,” John Metzger, vice president of product marketing, said during the general session at VeeamON Wednesday. “Protecting workloads is important, but ensuring availability of those workloads is critical.”

Veeam Availability Suite includes Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam ONE.

General availability of Veeam Availability Suite v10 is projected for late 2017. Pricing is not available at this time.

Veeam earlier this week announced changes to its executive team.

Check SearchDataBackup this week for more news out of VeeamON.

May 16, 2017  4:03 PM

Veeam CEO role has room for two as company seeks growth

Paul Crocetti Paul Crocetti Profile: Paul Crocetti

NEW ORLEANS — Veeam Software has changed CEOs for the second time in less than a year.

On the eve of the VeeamON user conference this week, the data protection software vendor elevated two executives into co-CEO positions as it strives to become a billion-dollar company.

Peter McKay, previously COO and president, and Andrei Baronov, co-founder and CTO, will serve as co-CEOs. McKay will retain his title as president and Baronov will continue as CTO.  Former Veeam CEO William Largent moves into a new role as chairman of the company’s Finance & Compensation Committees.

The moves come 11 months after Largent replaced Veeam’s other founder, Ratmir Timashev, as CEO, and former VMware executive McKay joined the company as COO/president. Timashev remains with Veeam as a director of the private company.

McKay will lead Veeam’s “go-to-market,” finance and human resources functions, and work with Baronov to drive future growth, according to the company. The go-to-market strategy will specifically focus on the company’s continued expansion into the enterprise and cloud segments, as well as accelerating growth into the Americas and Asia/Pacific markets.

Baronov will oversee Veeam’s research and development, market strategy and product management functions. Largent will be responsible for the oversight of all corporate governance matters, tax structure, investment management and internal audits.

Founded in 2006, Veeam has a goal of becoming a $1 billion revenue company by 2018 and a $1.5 billion company by 2020, McKay said today at VeeamON.

Veeam recently reported its 2016 revenue bookings at $607 million.

“As we continue to grow and scale our business, we need to do it the right way,” McKay said.

Veeam reported about 2,500 global employees at the end of 2016 and is looking to add 800 over the next year, McKay said. The company plans to invest $126 million in marketing in 2017, which is about 20% of its revenue.

Veeam is looking to expand in four specific areas: geographic, platform (physical, virtual and cloud), segment (increased investment in SMB, commercial and enterprise markets) and partners.

Before joining Veeam, McKay was senior vice president and general manager of the Americas at VMware. He was also CEO of startups Desktone, Watchfire and eCredit.

“Peter took the company to the next level,” Timashev said of McKay’s first year at Veeam.

Veeam is growing faster and is more innovative now, Timashev said.

Veeam claims a total of 242,000 customers, and says it is adding 4,000 customers each month.

“There is an unbelievable opportunity in front of us,” McKay said. “We have to be bold.”

May 16, 2017  11:25 AM

IBM to package Nutanix HCI software on Power Systems

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo
Hyper-convergence, IBM, Nutanix

Nutanix is making its hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) software available on another server platform, this time with the server vendor’s full cooperation.

Nutanix and IBM today disclosed an OEM deal for IBM to sell Nutanix HCI software on Power Systems servers. The deal gives IBM an HCI system and brings Nutanix beyond the x86 platform where hyper-convergence is dominant.

Greg Smith, Nutanix senior director of technical marketing, said IBM will sell Nutanix HCI software  on IBM-branded turnkey appliances beginning sometime in 2017. This is different than Nutanix’s recent initiatives to make its HCI software available through channel partners with Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers. Neither Cisco nor HPE were willing partners, as both sell competitive products.

Dell EMC and Lenovo also sell branded systems with  Nutanix HCI software through OEM deals. Nutanix is the HCI market leader according to IDC.

IBM is the first Nutanix partner to sell its HCI software on non-X86 hardware. Power servers are RISC-based, and often host IBM’s cognitive computing workloads.

“This allows our software to run on a different class of server,” Smith said. “We have done well on x86 platforms, and this allows us to venture into a different market segment. Power systems are used for more advanced big data, machine learning and AI cognitive workloads. These are demanding applications that demand high performance.”

Unlike x86 systems running Nutanix software, the IBM HCI systems will only support the Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). Nutanix started out supporting only VMware hypervisors, and most of its customers still use VMware virtualization. But Smith said AHV will be incorporated on all of the IBM Nutanix systems. Smith said AHV is designed for cloud-native applications and running microservices and containers.

“The objective is for [IBM] customers to run the Nutanix AHV hypervisor,” he said.

IBM sold off its x86 server platform to Lenovo and sees need to enter x86 HCI market, according to IBM storage general manager Ed Walsh. In an interview with TechTarget in February, Walsh said IBM’s converged infrastructure platform provides the same benefits to customers as x86-based HCI.




May 12, 2017  9:09 AM

Dell EMC World: Virtustream cloud launches for healthcare

Garry Kranz Garry Kranz Profile: Garry Kranz

New Dell EMC cloud storage has appeared on the horizon, providing a silver lining for IT-pressed healthcare shops.

Virtustream Healthcare Cloud, which launched this week at Dell EMC World 2017, is a secure compliance archive for electronic medical records. The Virtustream cloud is built on Pivotal Cloud Foundry software running atop Dell EMC storage.

The vendor said the Virtustream Healthcare Cloud hosts mission-critical data sets in a HIPAA-and HITECH-compliant environment, with managed services and guaranteed five nines of availability. Customers use software to tier data from on-premises Dell EMC storage to the Virtustream cloud.

“We’re looking to do the same things with the healthcare cloud that we’ve done in the SAP database world: consumption billing, performance with availability guarantees, built-in disaster recovery with RPOs and RTOs, and a full managed services capability on top,” said Matt Theurer, a Virtustream founder and its senior vice president of product management.

Startup Virtustream launched in 2009 to provide public cloud hosting of legacy applications that were not written for the cloud, such as SAP Hana. It became part of EMC via a 2015 acquisition. EMC subsequently ported its Rubicon project into the Virtustream cloud to create the Virtustream Storage Cloud object platform.

Rubicon turns the Virtustream cloud into a target for underlying Dell EMC storage through Isilon CloudPools, Data Domain CloudBoost and CloudArray for Dell EMC Unity and VMAX all-flash arrays.

Dell EMC also rolled out the Virtustream Enterprise Cloud Connector for the VMware vRealize Automation suite. Theurer said customers can use Virtustream as an endpoint for cloud bursting or tiering to support evolving availability, disaster recovery, performance and security requirements.

May 12, 2017  9:03 AM

Snowden, Cinder demo give OpenStack Summit storage twist

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
Edward Snowden, OpenStack

BOSTON — Storage is rarely a focal point at OpenStack Summit keynotes, so it was interesting this week to see a Cinder block storage demo — even if it failed — and Edward Snowden discussing data in the cloud.

The OpenStack Cinder demo hit a technical glitch, but the live video feed from Moscow with the former National Security agency contractor went off without a hitch.

Snowden left the U.S. after his 2013 leak of more than a million documents revealed extensive domestic surveillance operations. He told OpenStack Summit attendees they could help the people who make the decisions on how to build the infrastructure-as-a-service layer — which he said is “increasingly becoming the bones of the Internet.

“You could use [Amazon’s] EC2. You could use Google’s Compute Engine or whatever. These are fine, right. They work. But the problem here is that they’re fundamentally disempowering,” Snowden said. “You give them money, and in exchange you’re supposed to be provided with a service. And that exists. But you’re actually providing them [with] more than money. You’re also providing them with data, and you’re giving up control. You’re giving up influence. You can’t reshape their infrastructure.

“They’re not going to change things and tailor it for your needs,” he continued. “And you end up reaching a certain point where, OK, these are portable to a certain extent. You can containerize things and then shift them around. But you’re sinking costs into an infrastructure that is not yours fundamentally.”

He cautioned that, when running on the stacks of Google or Amazon, “How do you know when it starts spying on you?” Snowden asked. “How do you know when your image has been passed to some adversarial group, whether it’s just taken by an employee and sold to a competitor, whether it’s taking a copy for the FBI, whether legally or illegally. You really don’t have any awareness of this, because it’s happening at a layer that’s hidden from you.”

Snowden said OpenStack could make users “lose that fundamental, inherent silent vulnerability of investing into things” they don’t influence, own, control or shape. He said OpenStack requires “a little bit more of a technical understanding” to build layer by layer and “continues to comply with this very free and open set of values that the open source community, in general, drives all over the place.

“We can start to envision a world where cloud infrastructures are not private in the sense of private corporations, but private in the sense of a person,” Snowden said, where a small business, a large business or a community of technologists could own, control and shape OpenStack and “lay the foundation upon which everybody builds.

“And I think that’s probably one of the most powerful ideas that shapes the history of the internet and, hopefully, will allow us to direct the future of the internet in a more free rather than a more closed way,” Snowden said.

Cinder demo problem

The Cinder block storage service factored into an OpenStack Summit demo gaffe in the context of explaining open “composable” and cloud-native infrastructure. The snafu came during an attempt to show how to run Cinder as a stand-alone service using Docker Compose to spin up containers.

John Griffith, a principal software engineer at NetApp, later explained the problem he confronted on stage: “There’s an interesting race condition that in all of our rehearsals we never hit, where the scheduler container would come up before the database container was actually ready to receive requests,” he said. “And so it would crash the scheduler container.”

Griffith said he had never encountered the problem before, despite running “this exact demo probably at least a hundred times” before the keynote.

“Unfortunately, when you’re doing a keynote live demo in front of a few thousand people, you don’t have the liberty or luxury to just [say], ‘Hey, let me try this again,’ ” Griffith said.

Kendall Nelson, an upstream developer advocate with the OpenStack Foundation, said the demo ran perfectly twice on the morning of the OpenStack Summit keynote and at least a half dozen times the day before.

Nelson said the takeaway would have been that users could deploy Kubernetes and Docker with OpenStack, and use OpenStack services such as Cinder stand-alone, without additional services such as Nova compute.

“Really, one of the most important things to take away from that, too, is the fact that Cinder actually, by itself, can be extremely easy for somebody to deploy and use,” Griffith said. “Somebody could actually download that Compose file and run that Compose file on their own and have an up-and-running Cinder deployment.”

Griffith said developers are increasingly realizing a need for persistent block storage with containers.

“There are, of course, people that say the world should be ephemeral, and there’s no persistence. The reality is that’s not the world we live in,” Griffith said. “Databases are pretty useless if they don’t have any data in them. OpenStack has been working on storage for a long time. The container space hasn’t. So this is actually an opportunity. ‘Hey, here is a storage service. You can plug this in, and now all you have to do is focus on your APIs.'”

May 9, 2017  12:49 PM

FalconStor FreeStor makes progress, but vendor sales still down

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Beleaguered software vendor FalconStor Software reported a cash flow positive first quarter of 2017, although that highlight came more on the back of spending cuts than improved sales.

FalconStor revenues actually dipped in the quarter to $6 million after posting $7.4 million in the previous quarter and the first quarter of 2016. The vendor takes solace in a slight uptick in its FalconStor FreeStor software revenue, to $1.6 million compared to $900,000 a year ago.

The company has undertaken cost-cutting initiatives that resulted in non-GAAP expenses decreasing to $7 million compared to $8.1 million in the previous quarter and $10.7 million in the first quarter of 2016.

“We are pleased that we achieved our goal of being cash flow positive for the quarter,” said Daniel Murale, FalconStor’s vice president of finance and interim chief financial officer. “As of March 31, our cash and cash equivalents balance increased 1% to $3.4 million as compared with Dec. 31, 2016. Our No. 1 goal as a company is to continue to preserve our cash balance.”

Murale said FalconStor has gone from 224 employees a year ago to 165 at the end of last quarter. “We continually look to optimize our cost structure,” he said.

That doesn’t mean FalconStor was profitable. The vendor lost $1.1 million in the quarter. But that’s an improvement over a $4.3 million loss a year ago, and FalconStor CEO Gary Quinn said customers are heating up to FalconStor FreeStor.

The vendor claims 360 FalconStor FreeStor customers as it tries to revitalize its business that incurred serious setbacks, including the 2011 suicide of its founder and CEO ReiJane Huai.

The Melville, NY-based company reported $5.5 million in bookings compared to $8.4 million in the previous quarter and $7.4 million it generated in the first quarter of 2016. FalconStor reported that OEM partner Hitachi Data Systems accounted for 10% of its total revenue.

FalconStor FreeStor is building block to growth

FalconStor, an early storage virtualization vendor, is trying to rebuild itself with its FreeStor storage virtualization. FalconStor FreeStor provides block-based services such as data migration, protection, recovery and analytics for heterogeneous storage.

“Our overall performance still requires some improvement,”said Gary Quinn, FalconStor’s president and CEO. “We have been able to grow FreeStor, but just not at a rate faster than the legacy product is weakening. Many of our legacy customers were larger virtual tape library (VTL) customers who have chosen to update their backup solutions with modern snapshot technology. In many cases, those VTL customers were part of a field-based OEM partners’ sales team, which meant FalconStor did not have direct contact (with) those customers.”

Quinn offered some insight into the storage market when asked by an analyst if the current market was “still hazy.”

“You could say you’re kind of underwater in a pond with a lot of algae at the moment with a snorkel,” Quinn said. “It’s fairly tough. I mean, there are a couple of people … I think Commvault had a pretty good result last quarter. I think they’ve finally got some traction going, but I think overall, for most people in the storage industry, it’s still a fairly significant slog out there.”

May 4, 2017  5:33 PM

Hyper-converged backup in Commvault’s future

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Commvault is getting into the hyper-converged backup game.

Commvault CEO Bob Hammer outlined the vendor’s product plans for the coming months Wednesday, May 3 during its quarterly earnings call. He said hyper-converged reference architectures for secondary storage are in the company’s plans, along with an enhanced platform for the cloud, new service offerings for endpoints and Commvault managed services. The company also plans to enhance the Commvault Data Platform with business analytics.

Hammer didn’t give enough specifics to tell if the hyper-converged backup products will be similar to converged platforms such as Rubrik and Cohesity. He will leave the details to the actual product launch. But he did lay out Commvault’s strategy.

“We are launching this quarter our move into secondary storage with a whole series of leading-edge hyper-converged solutions,” Hammer said. “And right on the back of that are a series of new standalone solutions, and right on the back of that is analytics.”

Hammer said Commvault’s hyper-converged backup reference architectures will handle snapshots, replication, archiving and copy data management. In addition, he said, scale-out hyper-converged backup configurations will be available this fall. The company will also expand with managed services for backup, archive and endpoint offerings.

“There is a massive trend in the industry to move away from legacy infrastructure to more commodity cloud-like infrastructures,” he said. “The key commoditized hardware components will be managed by software…Our approach to hyper-converged storage is unique, since it combines Commvault Platform’s comprehensive index knowledge of the data with the management of the backend storage.”

Commvault is building business analytics into its data management platform by adding search capabilities that can be fed into analytics engines.

“It also includes embedding machine learning and other artificial intelligence capabilities into our platform,” Hammer said.

Continued growth depends on more large deals

Commvault reported total revenue of $172.9 million last quarter, an increase of 8% year-over-year and a sequential increase of 4%. Commvault posted $650.5 million in total revenues for the full fiscal year, an increase of 9% compared to fiscal 2016.

Software revenue of $84.7 million in the quarter was an increase of 15% year-over-year and a 10% sequential increase. Services accounted for $88.2 million for fiscal 2017, an increase of 2% year-over-year and a flat sequential increase.

Total software revenue for the full fiscal year was $296 million, an increase of 15% compared to fiscal 2016. Services revenue for the full fiscal year was $354 million, which was an increase of 5% compared to 2016.

Commvault reported a net income of $3.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, and a net income of $500,000 for the full fiscal year. Hammer said the objective for this year is to further improve licensing revenue through the enhanced product portfolio “focused on market-leading solutions for customers dealing with big three trends in the market.”

Those three market trends include the cloud, IT infrastructure modernization and business analytics. Commvault has been working on digging itself out of a sales slump that began in 2014. In a previous earnings call, Hammer said the company still faces some critical challenges and continued growth depends on its ability to win more large deals. A lot of its success will turn on releases of new Commvault products.

May 3, 2017  8:00 AM

Nutanix enterprise cloud strategy envelopes HPE, Cisco blades

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Nutanix took two steps today to paint itself as more of an enterprise cloud player.

First, it added Hewlett Packard Enterprise ProLiant rackmount servers and Cisco UCS B-Series blade servers to its list of supported hardware. Nutanix also adopted a new short-term licensing model allowing customers to consume its software in more of a cloud model.

The moves come as Nutanix tries to separate its software stack from its underlying hardware in an attempt to become an enterprise cloud platform. They also make it more competitive to VMware’s vSAN hyper-converged software, which also has partnerships with all major hardware vendors.

 Nutanix began supporting Cisco UCS C-Series servers in late 2016. The availability on HPE means Nutanix customers can run its hyper-converged software on servers from the four leading server vendors.

The Nutanix enterprise cloud stack consists of its Prism management software, and Acropolis services and hypervisor platform.

Nutanix does not sell servers, but it packages its software on Super Micro hardware for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform NX branded appliances. It also has OEM deals with Dell EMC and Lenovo. Dell EMC sells Nutanix software on PowerEdge servers as the Dell EMC XC Series and Lenovo re-brands Nutanix software on its Converged HX appliances.

Greg Smith, Nutanix senior director of technical marketing, said the various software-hardware partnerships reflect the way hyper-converged infrastructure is purchased. He said organizations want to buy the HCI software stack of their choice and run it on their favored server hardware.

“We are a software company in our heart, so it’s a natural strategy for us to make our software available to run on as many platforms as possible,” Smith said. “The hyper-converged market is a software market. If I want to build out my infrastructure, it is a software-first strategy and the platform is second. Customers want to build what we call enterprise clouds by consuming software on the server of their choice

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software will be available on Cisco UCS B-Series by the end of June, and on HPE in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Unlike Dell EMC and Lenovo, HPE and Cisco have not reached out to Nutanix. Channel partners and integrators will bundle Nutanix software on HPE and Cisco hardware. HPE and Cisco sell their own branded hyper-converged platforms.

HPE spent $650 million to acquire former Nutanix rival Simplivity this year, and sells SimpliVity software on HPE ProLiant servers. Cisco sells a HyperFlex hyper-converged appliance built on software from SpringPath through an OEM partnership.

HPE responded to the Nutanix initiative with a statement urging organizations to buy HPE hyper-convergence. “While it’s nice that Nutanix recognizes our leadership in the server industry, there is no relationship between HPE and Nutanix,” an HPE spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Customers looking for a supported hyper-converged solution on our DL380 are better served using our HPE SimpliVity product.”

Nutanix also has coopetition relationships with Dell EMC and Lenovo. Dell EMC sells a VxRail appliance based on vSAN software that competes with its XC Series. Lenovo also partners with other hyper-converged software vendors.

Smith said Nutanix has customers running its software on clusters from several server vendors. The clusters can be managed centrally through Prism but customers cannot mix hardware vendors within the same cluster.

“We see a commoditization of the hardware layer,” Smith said. “The software provides the performance, capabilities and features. The x86 hardware is secondary.”

Smith said more Nutanix customers still run VMware hypervisors instead of the Acropolis hypervisor, but the multi-hypervisor option remains a big piece of Nutanix’s strategy.

Consumption-based pricing part of Nutanix enterprise cloud model

New Nutanix Go pricing allows customers to license its branded appliances for as short a time as six months. Nutanix has not disclosed exact Go pricing but Smith said it depends on the appliance model and length of the subscription. He said Nutanix recommends customers to buy the appliance if they expect to use it for more than three years while leasing makes sense for shorter-term implementations.

The pricing model is another piece of the Nutanix enterprise cloud strategy.

“We want the consumption model to closely match the public cloud model,” Smith said.

Nutanix’s steep price is often cited as a reason that organizations pick other hyper-converged systems, particularly small companies.

Nutanix and VMware both claim to be hyper-converged market leaders. Nutanix reported $525 million in revenue in 2016 and $182.2 million in the first calendar quarter of 2017. It claims more than 5,380 customers. VSAN revenue is harder to calculate because VMware does not sell it on branded appliances, but VMware claims more than 7,000 vSAN customers.

May 2, 2017  12:16 PM

Western Digital earnings rosy, NAND issues remain

Carol Sliwa Carol Sliwa Profile: Carol Sliwa
western digital

Western Digital reported a solid $4.6 billion in revenue during last week’s earnings call yet chip and NAND flash supply issues hang over the vendor.

Western Digital, which sells hard disk drive and solid-state drives, is fighting to preserve its 17-year semiconductor joint venture with Toshiba in Japan. Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan said his company intends to preserve its interests with respect to any potential transactions involving financially troubled Toshiba.

During the Western Digital earnings call, Milligan claimed no sale of Toshiba’s memory unit can be completed without his company’s consent.

Western Digital has invested $13 billion in its joint venture with Toshiba since 2000, according to Milligan. He said the company is “committed to continuing this storied partnership in Japan.”

Western Digital is reportedly among four bidders for the Toshiba business, along with Broadcom, FoxConn and SK Hynix.

Milligan declined to comment on time lines for any deal or “what’s happening with some of these other supposed bidders.”

Meanwhile, the NAND flash shortage that started last year appears to be stretching through 2017. Micheal Cordano, Western Digital president and chief operating officer, said the company thinks NAND flash will remain in a “constrained environment” through the first half of 2018. He added that it’s hard to tell how “that evolves ultimately.”

Milligan said the conversion from 2D, or planar, NAND to 3D NAND has been difficult for WD and all manufacturers.

“This is tough stuff, and so it may be taking a little bit longer from a conversion standpoint and from a yield perspective than what people estimate,” Milligan said. “And so therefore the bit growth rate is a little bit lower than all of us expected, and demand continues to be strong, driving a tight environment.”

Cordano said Western Digital made progress in its ongoing conversion to 3D NAND technology, beginning shipments of 64-layer 3D NAND in the client SSD form factor. He said the company expects to expand the 64-layer technology across its product portfolio during 2017.

This year, Western Digital plans to produce more than 75% of its total 3D NAND bit output based on the 64-layer architecture, according to Cordano. He said WD’s estimates for NAND industry bit growth rates are at the low end of the long-term industry outlook of 35% to 45% for 2017 and somewhat higher in 2018.

Western Digital earnings head in positive direction

The Western Digital earnings call includes several pieces of good news for the vendor. The $4.6 billion in revenue and earnings of $248 million last quarter and forecast of $4.8 billion for this quarter all beat Wall Street expectations.

Western Digital’s revenue included $1.3 billion for its data center business, fueled by cloud-related storage demand, according to Mark Long, the company’s CFO and chief strategy officer. Long said sustained strength in capacity enterprise HDDs and sequential growth for enterprise SSDs offset the decline in high-performance enterprise HDDs.

Cordano said sales of enterprise-class SSDs were solid, and hyperscale customers have growing needs for WD’s 10 TB helium-based HDD. He noted the company completed qualifications of the 10 TB drive with key customers during the quarter. Western Digital has shipped 15 million helium HDDs since the product line’s launch four years ago, according to Cordano.

Enterprise HDD shipments dropped from 6.4 million to 5.8 million from WD’s second fiscal quarter to the third fiscal quarter ending in March. But the exabytes shipped increased from 26.3 to 26.5 during that time frame for data center devices.

Last week, Western Digital began shipping its first 12 TB helium-based HDDs. The new 3.5-inch HGST-branded Ultrastar He12 offers the option of 12 Gbps SAS or 6 Gbps SATA interfaces. The Ultrastar He12 uses eight disks, two more than the highest capacity air-based enterprise drive, to facilitate the increased capacity, according to Western Digital.

Milligan said the company expects to see increasing deployment of 10 TB helium-based HDDs this year and could see 12 TB HGST-brand Ultrastar HDDs happen at greater scale later in 2017.

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