Last week I attended Storage Feld Day 6 and one of the first sessions was with Avere systems. I really like their products and tech (as much as many other pundits do) but I think they’ve been making some bad choices. The risk is that their true potential is not put to good use and that they could become totally irrelevant to the enterprise market.
Avere started a few years ago with a product which was able to accelerate access to legacy NAS systems. A scale-out solution which sits in front of a NFS storage and caches almost all I/O activity. This solution allowed to split performance from capacity while also mitigating the latency of long distance connections. This helped Avere to get its first customers, very high end customers indeed, with specific problems to solve.
The product has evolved considerably since then and the subsequent releases have added many more features aimed at virtualizing backend data access. This is a simplification of course, but the result is that the FXT edge filers (the name of the products) have quickly become powerful tools in solving a wider range of problems like seamless migrations, consolidation, DR simplification and many others.
Last year, the product added support for object storage backend (Amazon S3) and, a few weeks ago, a VSA version was finally announced (the first time I asked them why there wasn’t a VSA in their product lineup was 2 years ago!) .
If you look at this product you think: “WOW! this has a huge potential in the enterprise space”…
I don’t know why, but Avere wants to play it safe… too safe maybe.
In fact, the Virtual FXT was announced as a virtual appliance running on Amazon EC2 which, again, is aimed at solving problems that most of their usual customers have… We are talking about 100 customers worldwide focused on oil&gas, HPC, media&entertainment… not actual “standard” enterprises. That’s a shame, I would like to see them more aggressive and showing many more “traditional” use cases.
I’m not contesting the verticals but I think they could quickly expand their customer base by supporting, for example, more common enterprise platforms like VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V with smaller virtual appliances. Most enterprise end users are looking at hybrid infrastructure deployments right now and they have a “virtualization first!” policy.
Even though we are talking about different kinds of deals (probably smaller) their revenues could be much higher than they are.
During the chat that followed the session they repeated many times that they will eventually, but the correct timing is just as important as the technology in the enterprise IT.
Avere has great technology and a huge theoretical potential. The problem is that others, startups and primary vendors, are working on similar technology and most of them are showing it to enterprise customers right now.
At the moment Avere systems has another advantage too. They come from the HPC-like environment, which is now considered cool in enterprise IT, although not so in the past. If you look around, you can easily find other examples of High Performance Computing vendors that are gaining a lot of attention in the traditional enterprise space… These vendors inspire agility, scalability and innovation more than any other!
I think Avere should drastically rethink its approach/message and attack traditional IT shops as soon as possibile. If not, they will probably continue to be a cool company with a cool product… but totally irrelevant too.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by the GestaltIT and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.