SanDisk is purchasing Fuision-IO for a $1.1B. This is the last of an interesting series of acquisitions and offers some interesting implications regarding the future of the enterprise flash memory market.

About SanDisk and Fusion-IO

2014-04-24 15.47.30 copySanDisk, which I recently met with during Storage Field Day 5, is well known to the public for its consumer products (like the USB memory sticks or the SD cards for your camera) but they are also one of the primary OEM vendors for enterprise storage array suppliers.
In recent years many new products and technology have been added to their portfolio (some of them through acquisitions like FlashSoft) and they now have a very compelling product line-up.
They also have a channel but vast majority of the sales are still to the OEMs.

fusion-io-iomemoryOn the other hand, Fusion-IO had the advantage/disadvantage of being the first mover in the PCIe flash market but it can no longer differentiate from the tough competition of players like HGST or Seagate. Even the latest product announcement, good on paper, doesn’t make a real difference and in most of the cases price (or price/IOPS/GB) is becoming the only unit of measure.
Furthermore, acquisitions like that of NexGen (now ioControl) have shown all the limits of this company and how hard and frustrating it can be living between the role of OEM and end-user vendor (without mentioning the two non-OEM major customers which make up for a big part of the total revenues).

From the point of view of the deal itself, SanDisk did a great job buying a company with great experience and products to enrich its product line-up.

Why it matters

SanDisk has an impressive score in acquisitions lately. The list is getting longer and longer and they are building (and developing) a really compelling offer for being considered a first-in-class OEM supplier in the enterprise flash market. PCIe products are fundamental and buying the most recognizable PCIe flash brand will add even some marketing value in future product marketing/branding.

Generally speaking, internal server SSD storage is already commoditized and this will help the acceleration of the ServerSAN adoption (or whatever you call it: software-defined, VSA, VSAN, NO-SAN). As already mentioned in one of my recent articles: “Ordinary storage systems are not capable of dealing with today’s data challenges, and especially not all at the same time! If your target is to drive down TCA and TCO, it’s time to look around and find new innovative approaches.”