Formation Data Systems Exits Stealth, Plans Storage Industry Disruption

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"It's analogous to the creating of the smart phone industry," he said. "For the first generation, you had a phone, a GPS and a music player. That was good until people realized all the devices had similar hardware, with all the functions coming from software. Apple came along with its iPhone, but didn't make a better phone. It made a good phone, a good music device and a good GPS all in one."

Formation Data Systems is doing the same for storage by virtualizing all block, file and object storage and projecting it to customers as needed. However, Lewis said, the company does not see itself as developing a technology for every use.

"There will be 'corner' requirements for specific purposes," he said. "Someone will find an all-flash storage array better for specific purposes. But our solution will fit 95 percent of user cases."

However, unlike most new storage technologies that aim to either take advantage of customers' existing hardware or software or gradually wean them off prior platforms, Formation Data Systems expects customers to replace existing infrastructures, Lewis said.

"Our difference is, we are completely incompatible with old platforms," he said. "One potential customer recently told us we have to embrace all their old platforms. I said, well, I guess we're not going to sell to you."

Formation Data Systems' technology does not support the most common storage industry technologies including SCSI, Fibre Channel, NAS and  hardware RAID, Lewis said.

"I can't make the old stuff cheaper," he said. "I can't make 30-year-old proprietary technology better. But look at Google and others. All the new successful platforms have rarely been built on existing platforms."

The most disruptive things happen when one needs to get rid of existing technology, Lewis said.

"That's why people add this vendor for NAS, that vendor for dedupe, this vendor for flash. Now they're adding a new vendor for big data and Hadoop. It's a pending earthquake. CIOs look at what Facebook and Google are doing, and ask why they are paying so much more for storage. They are asking their IT departments why they can't do that."

NEXT: VARs Who Know Lewis Said He Has The Potential To Disrupt Storage

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