The new product is StorCentric’s first Violin release since they acquired the company late last year, and is an entry level version of the QV2020. For now, the branding remains Violin, but that’s something that will be examined going forward.
Today, StorCentric is announcing the extension of the Violin QV-Series with the general availability of the QV1020 high performance all-flash NVMe storage solution. The QV1020 is a lower capacity version of their QV2020 product designed to meet the requirements and price point of customers with smaller databases.
StorCentric is a holding company which had already built an integrated storage portfolio with the acquisitions of Nexsan, Drobo, Vexata and Retrospect before they acquired Violin in late 2020. Violin, a pioneer in the flash storage space, had by this time encountered financial issues, gone bankrupt, been resurrected with venture capitalist money, and acquired the storage business of X-IO Technologies
“When we looked at Violin, I was NOT looking for any further roadmap on the original product, which had things like the unnecessary burden of building their own SSDs,” said Surya Varanasi, CTO of StorCentric. “That was not of interest to me at all. The products they were selling at that time were on standard x86 hardware with standard SSD using X-IO technology, which they had improved. That was attractive because StorCentric did not have a block-based product, especially for the midrange. Vexata has a product, but it’s very high end and thus by definition very nichey. We were looking for midrange NVMe, based on software, so we could make it cost effective in the market. And we needed a product that could fit nicely with the channel.”
StorCentric positions Violin a level below Vexata, with Nexsan being a level under that.
“Nexsan and Violin go to different sets of use cases and customers, and Nexsan’s market is not where Violin fits,” Varanasi said. “Violin addresses a virtualized market with SQL or Oracle databases.” Their product in the all-flash NVMe space has been the QV2020, introduced a year ago, which has an effective capacity of 116 TB to 479 TB.
The problem was that this was simply much more than a lot of the market needed.
“They are lots of smaller databases out there in the 10-30 TB range, so a 300 TB product was just too much,” Varanasi indicated. “Customers had been asking us for a lower capacity model.” The feeds and speeds for the QV1020 are the same as the QV2020, except that the usable capacity is lower, at 15 TB to 116 TB.
The Violin line competes against products like the Dell EMC PowerMax and the Pure Storage FlashArray//X, but Varanasi thinks that the AV1020 is well suited for its market.
“The secret sauce for our systems is that we can offer synchronous replication for 100% uptime at these very small capacities,” he said. “Synchronous replication is very important in this market.”
Varanasi also thinks that the lull in the storage hardware market that was so pronounced in the first half of last year is no longer an issue.
“March through May of 2020 in particular was tough for the market,” he said. “But if you fast forward to today, while you do have some restrictions, people are finding out how to work around them. We are seeing a resurgence of demand for our products.”
Until last fall, StorCentric had continued to brand the new releases of acquired companies with their own brands, and not use StorCentric as a brand. That changed last October with the release of the Data Mobility Suite [DMS], a software product that provides seamless data migration, data replication, and data synchronization across heterogeneous, mixed media storage deployments. Violin was acquired just days later. StorCentric believes that their other brands have brand equity built up in most cases, over a decade and a half of use. Violin, on the other hand, has a not unwarranted reputation as a failed brand, which was critical to the creation of the flash market, but lost that advantage and wound up bankrupt. That could lead to the replacement of the Violin brand – but this is not the time.
“Violin has an established set of channel partners,” Varanasi said. “We saw an opportunity to release a product at a smaller size that fit a market need, but we didn’t want to shake up the channel with a brand new name and registration. This product also fit into the QV line, so it made sense to keep the old brand, for now. When we have a next-generation product, we will more than likely rebrand it.”
“Some of our brands have a lot of brand equity and some don’t, and we are going through looking at all that as we determine our branding for the future,” said Samina Subedar, StorCentric’s VP of Marketing and Communications.”
For now, the product will be sold through the Violin channel and partner program, which Violin remade following the X-IO acquisition, to bring together the channels of two companies who had a past of selling direct through a hybrid channel model in a new approach with 100% channel commitment. The Violin channel remains separate – hardly surprising given the short period since the acquisition.
“For now, we are selling it through the Violin channel, although this is not a product which fits well with where Nexsan partners sell anyway,” Varanasi noted.