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StorCentric Plays A New Tune With Violin Systems Acquisition

‘Our partners may go to customers and pitch our Vexata technology, but that’s focused on the highest-performance workloads. Violin, on the other hand, adds performance in the midrange sector,’ says StorCentric CEO Mihir Shah.

StorCentric, the storage vendor built on the back of a number of acquisitions of smaller storage vendors, has acquired the once-imperiled Violin Systems, an early leader in all-flash storage.

StorCentric’s acquisition of Violin Systems for an undisclosed sum helps fill in a gap in the company’s product line, said Mihir Shah, CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.

Violin Systems adds a midrange all-flash storage array offering that sits between StorCentric’s Nexsan hard drive-based and hybrid flash-based arrays and its Vexata high-performance all-flash storage arrays, Shah told CRN.

[Related: StorCentric Exits Stealth With Acquisitions Of Drobo, Nexsan]

“Our partners may go to customers and pitch our Vexata technology, but that’s focused on the highest-performance workloads,” he said. “Violin, on the other hand, adds performance in the midrange sector.”

Violin Systems slides right into the gap in StorCentric’s offerings, Shah said.

“If we go into a customer without a product that addresses that customer’s needs, no sale,” he said. “Now StorCentric has a variety of solutions. If Vexata is too expensive, we now have Violin.”

Violin is only the latest in a string of acquisitions StorCentric has made since it was founded.

StorCentric in August 2018 came out of stealth mode with the news that it had acquired two long-established storage vendors, Nexsan and Drobo.

Nexsan is a developer of midrange and enterprise storage, and a pioneer in providing low-cost dense networked storage with its early development of its ATTABoy, ATTABeast, and SATABoy storage lines. The company also has a strong storage cloud connection with its Assureon Archive and Assureon Cloud Transfer technologies.

Drobo develops prosumer-focused and consumer-focused storage technology with attached cloud services and has a strong SMB business.

StorCentric in mid-2019 acquired Vexata, a developer of high-performance all-flash storage arrays. That followed by a week its acquisition of Retrospect, which develops data protection and recovery tools for consumers, prosumers, and SMBs.

Jackie Stewart, technical account strategist at Epoch Concepts, said the acquisition is a great move for StorCentric, Violin Systems, and the channel.

Stewart told CRN that Epoch Concepts, a Littleton, Colo.-based solution provider, has partnered with Violin Systems since 2016 through that company’s ups and downs, and found it to be a good vendor partner.

“It’s easy to sell product when the technology works as well as Violin’s does,” she said. “And it does work. We’ve had a lot of positive customer feedback on it.”

For customers who deployed Violin Systems, they found that the vendor never wavered in its support, Stewart said.

“Violin has had excellent support that goes above and beyond,” she said. “For example, if we found a vulnerability, customers got quick response with fixes. Customers had direct engineering support. That’s not something you see from vendors like Hewlett Packard Enterprise or Dell Technologies.”

Stewart said that, as a result of the acquisition, she is getting her first look at StorCentric’s Nexsan technology, and that she’s been excited so far.

“Now my customers will not only have access to the fastest-performing flash storage, but also to Nexsan hybrid flash technology,” she said. “We now have a broader portfolio. In the past, some potential customers thought Violin was expensive. But now those customers will find they can also go cheap and deep, and can go from high-end to the lower end.”

Surya Varanasi, chief technology officer of StorCentric, said Violin Systems with its midrange NVMe-based storage technology fits squarely between Nexsan’s hard drive and hybrid flash storage systems for core business applications and Vexata’s high-performance all-flash arrays targeting such workloads as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“We’re now able to serve the enterprise storage marketplace like no one else,” Varanasi told CRN.

These lines are complemented by StorCentric’s Drobo technology which is finding a new market in the work from home move, Retrospect’s data protection technology, and Nexsan’s Assureon archiving and compliance software, Varanasi said.

Shah said that while Violin Systems at one time declared bankruptcy and had its share of issues, the company has been profitable.

Varanasi said that StorCentric’s recent introduction of its new Data Mobility Suite, or DMS, technology will help overcome any issues related to the incompatibility of the company’s various storage lines’ operating systems.

“DMS is a software platform we use to control and managed data, and provide visibility across the entire StorCentric line.”

Shah further explained that DMS sits above StorCentric’s various storage operating systems to allow businesses to migrate data as needed for the lowest cost and easiest access.

“It also works with non-StorCentric arrays to give visibility into customers’ data and lets it be moved to where needed,” he said.

StorCentric for now has no plans to change the branding of Violin Systems or any of the company’s other product lines, Shah said.

“But we’re starting to highlight the StorCentric brand,” he said. “And at some point we will bring them together on branding and on the technology side.”

Solution providers should expect StorCentric to make more acquisitions, particularly in such areas as cloud-native applications with containers, object storage, and backup-as-a-service and disaster recovery-as-a-service, Varanasi said.

Looking farther ahead, Shah said StorCentric will be doing more to help customers glean insights from their data.

“We want to look at how customers can take data as it’s happening and offer insights,” he said. “This is a long-term vision for us, but I’m excited about it.”

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