SanDisk Spins Out NexGen Hybrid Flash-Disk Solution Business

NexGen's Chris McCall

Flash storage developer SanDisk Thursday said it has spun off a noncore part of its business it received as part of a previous acquisition into a new company, NexGen Storage, which is focused on tiered storage technology.

NexGen Storage also plans this month to unveil a significant addition to its product line.

NexGen was in the past a stand-alone developer of tiered storage solutions combining PCIe flash and spinning disk technologies before its 2013 acquisition by Fusion-io. Fusion-io in turn was last year acquired by SanDisk.

[Related: SanDisk To Acquire Fusion-io, Become Enterprise Flash Storage Provider]

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The company takes with it the NexGen n5 Storage System family of three hybrid storage arrays featuring integrated flash storage and spinning hard drives controlled by the company's ioControl software.

The NexGen team, including co-founder and CEO John Spires and co-founder and CTO Kelly Long, have survived both acquisitions pretty much intact, said Chris McCall, senior vice president of marketing for NexGen Storage.

"The core team and key executives, engineers and employees have remained together," McCall told CRN. "We also picked up a couple of new executives. One advantage we had is that we are a Colorado-based organization, with the bulk of our employees there. That is not the case with Fusion-io and SanDisk. So our employees were not dispersed after the acquisition."

McCall declined to speculate why SanDisk decided to spin out its ioControl solutions business as NexGen Storage, but he did say that NexGen's strategy has been different from that of the former parent company.

"Our strategy has always been to integrate software that brings different storage tiers together," he said. "We bring together SSDs for performance, and hard drives for capacity. The fact that we have disk drives in our systems is not part of SanDisk's strategy. But that's my interpretation."

In a statement from SanDisk, Sumit Sadana, the company's executive vice president and chief strategy officer, wrote that hybrid systems incorporating hard-disk drives are not part of SanDisk’s strategic focus.

"Spinning out the ioControl business allows us to focus our resources on our core business, while positioning the independent company to address the significant opportunities in the dynamic enterprise storage market," Sadana said in that statement.

The spin-out is good news for NexGen and its partners, said Stewart Sonneland, founder and CEO of Strategic Hardware, a Spokane, Wash.-based solution provider and NexGen partner.

NEXT: Increased Investment In NexGen Technology Expected

Sonneland told CRN that his company was one of NexGen's original channel partners, but has worked with the NexGen executive team including Spires and Long since they founded LeftHand Networks, a developer of virtual storage appliances acquired in 2008 by Hewlett-Packard .

"When a company is acquired, some really cool technology can be lost," he said. "LeftHand had really cool technology, but over time much was lost as HP moved its focus to 3Par. Spinning out NexGen lets the company really focus on developing the technology."

Despite NexGen Storage's acquisition by Fusion-io, and then Fusion-io's being acquired by SanDisk, customers of the NexGen technology have not seen disruption, Sonneland said. "I don't feel we've lost any clients," he said. "People who get the technology love it."

McCall declined to discuss NexGen Storage's financial situation or the identity of its primary investor, or whether that investor was a strategic investor or not.

He also declined to discuss the new solutions the company plans to unveil later this month, but he did say NexGen will continue offering its n5 family and will continue to use SanDisk's flash technology in its solutions. The company also has an OEM deal with SanDisk for its ioTurbine software, he said.