Violin Systems To Acquire X-IO Storage Business


Violin Systems Tuesday said it has signed an agreement to acquire the storage business of X-IO Technologies.

X-IO at the same time said it has renamed itself as Axellio, taking the brand name of its edge computing and hyper-converged infrastructure technology as its new company name.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, is expected to close within 30 days.

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Violin Systems is a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of high-performance all-flash storage systems and related operating systems and software. The company earlier this month unveiled the Violin XVS 8, a new storage system featuring low latency and enterprise-class data services.

The Violin XVS 8 features the high-performance NVMe over Fibre Channel protocol, and allows deduplication and compression to be set on a per-LUN basis.

X-IO Technologies is a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based developer of the X-IO Intelligent Storage Element, or ISE, all-flash arrays targeting high performance and low cost.

Violin Systems was formed from Violin Memory, an early pioneer in the flash storage industry that was never able to capitalize on its early market lead. The company in December 2016 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and unveiled plans to hold an auction for its assets.

The company in April 2017 emerged from bankruptcy and was purchased by Quantum Partners, an investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management.

Mark Lewis (pictured, left) in March of this year took over as chairman and CEO of Violin Systems.

Lewis told CRN the acquisition of the X-IO storage business will bring Violin Systems a new line of high-performance, cost-effective all-flash storage arrays to complement Violin's line of all-flash storage arrays, which he termed the industry's fastest storage.

"Now we can be both faster and cheaper," he said. "It's a great position to be in. … We will maintain our focus on the performance segment of the market. But X-IO allows us to go from the SMB to the enterprise."

With the acquisition, Violin Systems will have a combined 2,200-plus customers worldwide.

Bill Miller, CEO of X-IO, told CRN that his company has been thinking about separating its storage business for three years as it was not operating at an efficient scale.

"We were not seeing a way to get to sufficient scale," he said. "For the last three years, we have been moving into the edge computing and high-performance computing business. In the beginning, we saw synergy with our storage business. But we didn't get the scale we needed on the storage side. So we started talking with Lewis' predecessor on a possible acquisition."

X-IO has great technology around performance and cost efficiencies, Miller said. "But size matters in the storage market," he said. "Bigger is better."

X-IO has a long history. The company was formerly known as Xiotech, and in 2011 changed its name to XIO. It eventually added a dash to its name to become X-IO.

Once the acquisition closes, Violin Systems will remain the name of the combined company, Lewis said. The company will keep its Violin XVS brand for its current product line, and adopt the Violin XIO brand for the technology it plans to acquire from X-IO, he said.

The Violin XVS brand was given that moniker in part in anticipation of acquiring the X-IO business, he said. The dash in "X-IO" will be dropped to keep the two brands consistent with each other.

"I've been trying to get rid of that dash for years," Miller said.

"Just put another word in front of it," Lewis said.

After the acquisition closes, Miller will become a member of Violin Systems' board of directors.

X-IO is Violin Systems' first acquisition since Lewis took over. Prior to that, the previous company, Violin Memory, in 2012 acquired GridIron, a developer of hybrid flash and disk storage appliances.

Lewis said to expect more acquisitions as the larger storage vendors may have peaked in their desire to acquire smaller peers.

During his time at EMC, before it was acquired by Dell, the company was the bellwether of acquisitions in the storage business, Lewis said. "But with the acquisition by Dell, EMC's acquisition string sort of stopped," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to expand to new markets, and a great opportunities for small to midsize storage vendors to grow."

Going forward, Violin Systems intends to use the Axellio technology as the platform for its next-generation Violin XIO offering, Lewis said. At the same time, Axellio plans to license the XIO platform, including its data virtualization technology, for its edge computing and high-performance computing requirements, he said.