The Storage Market Is on Fire. So Why do Pundits Say That the Era of the Storage Startup is Over?

It’s funny how schizophrenic some in the tech media and venture capitalist (VCs) sectors are about the storage market. In one breath, they will say (had have been since the mid-2000s) that enterprise storage is “dead”, at least from the point of venture capital investors. Typically the culprit in the death of enterprise storage is “the cloud” (Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, and the various product offerings by Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent). In the next breath, we hear about how enterprise worldwide storage capacity is growing, how storage devices are continuing to increase in capacity (the world’s first 1TB MicroSD card was recently announced at Mobile World Congress 2019), and how the amount of data being produced continues to grow exponentially.

To underline the fact that storage startups are not dead, just look at the number of storage startups that have successfully competed with the major players and successfully “exited” over the past decade. An even partial list would include companies like Fusion-io (PCIe flash cards), Pure Storage (arguably the leader in all-flash arrays, at least from a feature standpoint), Tegile (another all-flash array company that was acquired by Western Digital), and Nimble Storage (acquired by HPE). Today’s group of promising storage startups include Cohesity (raised $250M in June 2018), Excelero (grew revenues 4X in the last year), and Vexata (closed $54M in 2017). And there is no sign that this trend is slowing down anytime in the near future.

Clearly, the market needs that these companies must address have changed; data protection and massive scale-out are some of the current “hot topics” in today’s storage startup world. In a sense, the storage market is creating its own new needs as the amount and types of data proliferate, and managing this data becomes more and more difficult. Edge Computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) demonstrate the problem of utilizing massive amounts of data in “constrained environments”. There are startup companies addressing these and many other areas of need; and, while there may not be as many new storage array companies coming out, this does not mean that the startup storage market is dead – it has just changed its focus.

As our team at NGD Systems prepares to launch products based on our Newport Computational Storage Platform, we see a dynamic and growing market for computational storage in a variety of use cases. In a world where petabyte-scale problems are more and more common, and the desire for faster and faster results from analytic problems continues to grow, the need for the acceleration of analytics continues to be more pronounced. If you want to see computational storage, reach out to me to set up a meeting at the Open Compute Platform (OCP) Global Summit in San Jose, CA on March 14th and 15th, or visit is in the AIC booth at the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose, CA on March 18-21, 2019. I am looking forward to talking with you!