The appointment of Ed Walsh as Storwize CEO this week has people in the storage industry wondering how long it will be until the primary data reduction vendor gets acquired.
EMC bought data deduplication specialist Avamar 17 months after Walsh became its CEO, and it took Walsh 19 months to sell virtualization startup Virtual Iron to Oracle this year. But Walsh says there’s plenty of room for Storwize to grow on its own.
“I think this company has a lot of legs,” he said. “The opportunity is quite large.”
Walsh certainly knows the data reduction space. Outside of Data Domain – also part of EMC now – no company did as much to market data deduplication in its early days as Avamar.
“Data deduplication was not a term until Avamar used it,” Walsh said. “Data Domain called it capacity optimized storage. At Avamar, we had to teach the market that data deduplication was something that you wanted. Now the market is rife. The technology has proven itself.”
While the industry is now filled with backup vendors doing dedupe a la Avamar, only Storwize and startup Ocarina Networks are dedicated solely to reducing primary data. NetApp also has dedupe for primary data on its storage systems, EMC this year added single instance storage to its NAS filers and Riverbed is working on a primary dedupe device – although it’s taking longer than originally thought.
“The difference for primary data is, there’s no tolerance for any performance degradation,” Walsh said. “Storwize really cracked the code on that. We get 6x or 9x improvement and no performance degradation. That gives us a long lead time on the competition.”
Storwize and Ocarina originally referred to their technologies as compression instead of dedupe. They work different than dedupe, and dedupe was considered a secondary storage technology. Ocarina has relented and refers to its product as dedupe now, because that’s the term potential customers want to use.
Storwize has emphasized its STN appliances do compression – not dedupe – but its release announcing the new CEO had the headline, “Deduplication pioneer Ed Walsh takes the reins at Storwize.” Walsh says it really doesn’t matter if it’s called compression or dedupe, as long as it works.
“Everyone does it slightly different,” he says. “In the end, it’s still data reduction.”