Flash Forward: Violin Memory Snaps Up GridIron


Flash array vendor Violin Memory is expanding its reach into the flash cache appliance market with its acquisition of GridIron Systems.

The acquisition of GridIron, which closed for an undisclosed sum in December but was only revealed this week, gives Violin Memory the ability to target two fast-growing segments of the storage market, said Ashish Gupta, director of marketing for Mountain View, Calif.-based Violin Memory.

"Customers looking to go to flash storage via a new flash layer on their existing spinning disk can go to GridIron," Gupta said. "With Violin, they get a new flash array solution. The story is all the same. It's all about accelerating applications."

[Related: Violin Memory Scores $50 Million From Investors, Including SAP]

Violin Memory is an early developer of flash-based storage arrays and competes with a handful of companies for customers looking to implement an all-flash storage array instead of an array composed primarily or completely of spinning hard drives.

The flash array market is mainly served by startups. However, that is changing as tier-one storage vendors enter the competition. These include EMC, which in May acquired startup XtremIO, and Hewlett-Packard, which in August unveiled an all-SSD option for its 3Par array line.

GridIron's primary product is its TurboCharger flash-based appliance, which sits between a server and a SAN to accelerate storage operations by optimizing the traffic between the two.

GridIron in October unveiled the OneAppliance hybrid flash array, which marries a pair of TurboCharger GT-1500 appliances to a NetApp Engenio E-5400 series array.

With GridIron, Violin Memory can now address customers who previously may not have been interested in working with the company, Gupta said.

"GridIron enables us to open the door to customers looking to add flash to their existing storage," he said. "This is no longer a barrier to us. It expands our portfolio and our marketplace."

Violin Memory and GridIron have worked together with joint customers, giving Violin Memory a chance to understand the flash cache appliance market, Gupta said.

While GridIron, which was founded in 2008 and had raised about $30 million in capital, was not yet a profitable company, it was one that showed remarkable growth, Gupta said.

"GridIron has a good customer base and several successful PoCs [proofs of concept] out there," he said. "Since the end of December, we've closed two deals worth a total of about $1 million."

PUBLISHED JAN. 23, 2013