Storage Startup Vexata Hires First Chief Sales Officer

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Vexata, a startup developer of high-performance flash storage software and appliances, Thursday said it has brought in storage and analytics veteran Charlie Leeming as its first chief sales officer.

Leeming, who spent several years at IBM and Toshiba and who helped Brocade develop its first OEM contracts, told CRN he joined the storage startup because of the opportunity to work with a startup, especially one founded by former Brocade colleagues.

"I left Brocade to look at amazing companies, pushed in part by venture capital friends," he said. "I knew the Vexata founders when they did design work at Brocade, and kept in touch with them."

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Vexata has done a lot in the few months since it started, including closing 10 Fortune-1000-caliber customers since it came out of stealth, Leeming said.

It has done so with a new storage architecture that goes beyond the limitations of traditional storage controllers, which allow maybe 5 percent to 10 percent of the potential bandwidth of all-flash storage technology, to take advantage of industry-standard hardware to deliver up to 30 times the performance of existing systems, Leeming said.

"They're offering incredible low latency with high throughput," he said. "IT needs to consume 20 times the data in one-tenth the time that classic technology offers."

With Vexata, customers are getting about 50 to 60 GBps of throughput in a 6U rack space, Leeming said. That capability, which might cost millions of dollars from existing vendors, can be purchased for a few hundred thousand dollars from Vexata, he said.

Vexata, San Jose, Calif., is taking advantage of the latest in flash storage technology including NVMe and Intel Optane SSDs, he said.

However, Vexata is not looking to replace customers' existing storage, Leeming said. "It's architected so that it can be implemented right next to legacy storage," he said. "We're going after the hottest part of the data."

Leeming cited the case of a customer, which he declined to name, that originally needed 96 hours to run a particular data set but after testing with Vexata found the job done in four hours. "They called us and said something is wrong," he said. "We checked, and found out that was what was supposed to happen."

Vexata is a great technology to go along with customers' existing storage infrastructures, said Greg Lefelar, senior vice president of sales at Jeskell Systems, a Laurel, Md.-based solution provider and Vexata channel partner.

Lefelar said his company signed with Vexata after another vendor said the company might be a potential source for very high-performance flash storage to go with IBM's Spectrum Scale scalable file and object storage technology.

A week before last year's Supercomputing 2017 conference, Jeskell decided to demonstrate a high-performance implementation of IBM Spectrum Scale in its booth, and worked with Vexata, which provided a 180-TB storage array with NVMe flash storage to go with Jeskell's Dell R730 servers, Lefelar said.

"It demonstrated really powerful results," he said. "We are convinced they have unique capabilities. The performance was out of sight."

In addition to its technical skills, Vexata so far has shown that it is a channel-centric company, Lefelar said. "The people we have worked with so far have been outstanding," he said. "They're a very collaborative team."

Vexata understands the channel well, Lefelar said.

"They have an organization that works positively with the channel," he said. "But it's early in the company's life. They live in an incredibly competitive world. They have to be selective with their partners. They need to make sure they choose partners who understand the competitive nature of the market."

Vexata currently works with several solution providers and systems integrators, although does also have some direct sales, Leeming said. The company is looking to recruit partners in such areas as business intelligence and machine learning where high performance is a must, he said.


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