Stepped-Up Storage: P1 Technologies Moves Beyond 'Block And Tackle' To Setting Strategy, Technology Directions

A small storage-focused solution provider signaled it was ready for big-league growth when it created the position of chief technology officer earlier this year.

P1 Technologies, which was founded nearly eight years ago, has been growing its business by nearly 38 percent per year for the past five years, said Aaron Cardenas, founder and CEO of the Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based solution provider.

The company began 2017 with 22 people and expects to add three or four new people this year, Cardenas told CRN. "We've grown to the point where we're servicing very large enterprises," he said. We've moved past the point of normal block and tackle."

[Related: Looking For 'Titanium' Growth, A Dell EMC Partner Hires Its First COO]

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This led the company early this year to promote Jeff DiNisco, a six-year company veteran and the former vice president of solutions architecture, to the role of the company's first chief technology officer.

DiNisco told CRN that the company's early years were focused on generating business.

"We are now focusing on strategy and technology directions," he said. "We need to take the next step."

DiNisco said he has already been doing much of the work of a CTO, including helping decide what new technologies to adopt for customers and build the company's demonstration and test lab.

A big part of a CTO's role is finding new technologies to answer customers' ever-changing needs with an eye on technologies from new vendors hungry to develop their business, DiNisco said.

"We need to find technologies with a large enough market to be viable, but also fill in the gaps in the technologies, and then integrate it in the customers' environments," he said.

DiNisco cited as an example his work with Excelero, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based software-defined storage startup focusing on the development of NVMe over converged Ethernet.

DiNisco said the Excelero technology was missing a key element: a clustered parallel file system. Since Excelero couldn't offer the file system, and file system vendors didn't offer NVMe over Ethernet, it is up to solution providers to build the actual solution, he said.

"We combined Excelero with Quantum's StorNext file system and brought it together with Mellanox's 40-Gbit fabric and Intel's servers and NVMe technology," he said.

When asked how one learns to be a CTO, DiNisco said the key is learning as much as possible from customers.

"Customers learn from us," he said. "But we also learn from them. There are a lot of great technology people and CTOs in our customers. And we also have a lot of great vendors. Between our customers and our vendors, we have a lot of talented people to learn from."

(Photo courtesy of Nick Stocking, P1 Technologies)