Startup SSD manufacturer NxGn on Wednesday came out of stealth mode with plans to build SSDs based on its own high-performance controller, a move seemingly at odds with the current contraction this part of the flash storage market is undergoing.
NxGn, founded by a group of SSD veterans from sTec and Western Digital, includes a core group of people who have worked on this technology for a long time, said James Fife, vice president of business development for the Irvine, Calif.-based company.
"The team has been together for some time," Fife told CRN. "They put sTec, or Simple Tech as it was known before, on the enterprise SSD map, and got the whole enterprise SSD industry started."
They include NxGn Founder and CEO Nader Salessi, a former vice president at sTec and vice president of the SSD Business Unit of Western Digital; Co-Founder and CTO Vladimir Alves, former senior director of SSD SoC (system-on-chip) at Western Digital; and Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of SSD Solutions Richard Mataya, who was vice president of hardware engineering at sTec and senior director of SSD hardware engineering at Western Digital.
sTec in its heyday was the primary supplier of SSDs to the enterprise. EMC partnered with sTec in 2008 when it became the first top-tier enterprise storage vendor to add SSDs to a disk storage array.
Western Digital in June of 2013 acquired sTec, making it a part of that company's HGST SSD business. Several of NxGn's employees left sTec for Western Digital prior to the acquisition of sTec, but then left Western Digital to form NxGn when it was clear that HGST would be taking over Western Digital's SSD business, Fife said.
The SSD market today is vastly different from when sTec first came to market, said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder.
"Best of luck to them," Swank told CRN. "I'm not sure how they will separate themselves from companies like Intel or Samsung, which make SSDs and also the flash component inside them. And companies like Seagate that are moving into flash and who have years of storage relationships they are trying to get in."
A startup like NxGn likely has connections with enterprise customers they can leverage, Swank said. "But they're going up against some pretty well-funded competitors. We've got more people trying to sell us SSDs than we know what to do with."
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