The IT Press Tour: DDN Storage, Pure Storage & Hedvig

Caroline Preece reports from the second day of the San Francisco IT Press Tour

This week, European journalists have been invited to the technology hub to meet with some of the most exciting and innovative companies currently operating in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and further afield.

It's all storage all the time for the second round of the IT Press Tour in Silicon Valley, as we meet with DDN Storage, Pure Storage and Hedvig over the course of the day. Here are the highlights:

DDN Storage

For our first session of the day, the group went to see DDN Storage, with CEO and co-founder Alex Bouzari and CMO and EVP of product management Molly Rector both speaking about the business, products and new technologies that may be on the horizon.

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The company has roots in HPC for large government labs and universities during the early-2000s, but has since evolved to serve similar use cases in an enterprise context. Initially based in Chatsowrth, the self-funded company now has headquarters in 20 countries around the world, including Santa Clara, and employs 600 people globally.

A presence in Silicon Valley, Bouzari said, gives the advantage of giving the company access to the very specialised talent it requires, and location-choices are often based on moving to where the more valuable employees are situated. Engineers, he adds, often want to work from wherever they are, and companies have to accommodate those needs or else risk losing that valuable talent. 

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The firm is enjoying double digit growth, we're told, and DDN has recognised that there is real value in shifting the emphasis to providing customers with the means to do things they can't do for themselves, with transparency of technology forcing technology companies to quickly become more competitive.

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In line with this, decision makers in large enterprise companies are now general manager of divisions concerned with delivering profit, Bouzari said. To that end, DDN is very focused on introducing the reliability capabilities, accuracy and instant gratification that are value by their enterprise customers, he added. 

Pure Storage

During the second meeting of day two, Pure Storage talked us through three of its offerings FlashArray//m, Pure1, and Evergreen Storage. Introducing the company prior to the presentation from CTO Americas Chadd Kenney, was founder and CTO of Pure, John Colgrove, who reiterated the company's dedication to simplicity simple both to do business with and for end users to use its products.

The company has been expanding rapidly, with more than 1,000 employees currently working for them. This week, the company also hired EMC's former CMO Jonathan Martin.

The three products covered had already been announced at the beginning of the month, with the company again pitching them as the solution to future-proofing companies far beyond the standard three to five year lifecycles of the past.

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Following the presentation, Joel McKelvey, solution manager for infrastructure solutions, arose to tell us about FlashStack, which was first announced back in December 2014. The all-flash converged infrastructure solution has been rapidly gaining partner interest since launch, he said, and while the speakers would not go into detail, they claimed to have a "rich roadmap" for the solution.

People want to buy Pure products simply to do things, McKelvey added, and so the company's primary objective is to make everything as simple and easy to use as possible.


Possibly the company with the most traditional feel of a start-up visited thus far, Hedvig's headquarters feature all of the basics bean bag chairs, a designated area for table tennis and a passionate and upbeat entrepreneurial vibe.

Founder and CEO of the company, Avinash Lakshman, had previously worked for Amazon Dynamo and Facebook before setting up Hedvig, he told the group before talking through the company's aims and achievements. 

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Lakshman argued that, though the storage industry had seen incremental innovations over the last decade, the market had not been significantly disrupted until very recently. Now, the cloud-mentality of most businesses and advancements in hardware have finally opened the market up to new opportunities. 

Hedvig which stands for hyperscale, elastic, distributed, virtualised, intelligent and granular is a highly-scalable distributed storage platform designed to help developers who are under increasing time pressure to deliver new applications with a flexible infrastructure by providing one unified storage platform for block, file and object storage.

It's time to become software-defined, VP of marketing Rob Whitely told us, and although data is growing at 10x the rate of storage budgets, only 14 per cent of enterprise customers are utilising cloud-like storage provisioning.

Even though companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix use software-defined storage, it is still a relatively new idea to many enterprise companies, Whitely said, But he was keen to stress that will soon change.

Tomorrow we will visit Catalogic Software, Micron Technology and Basho Technologies.

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