All-flash storage vendor Violin Memory is following up on its announcement of earlier this year announcing the Windows Flash Array (WFA) jointly developed with Microsoft, with the release of four more WFA configurations, which will be available in a new pricing model for Violin, pay-as-you-grow pricing which lets customers increase storage capacity as it is consumed.
The new models are 17.5, 26, 35, and 52TB configurations to the WFA product family, and will be positioned in the market as lower capacity alternatives to the original WFA-64 model, which has 70 TB of raw capacity that is scalable to 280 TB.
“The Windows Flash Array which we brought out at the end of April was a solution for the upper end of the Microsoft estate,” said Eric Herzog, CMO of Violin Memory. “These are our first ever all-flash arrays with pay-as-you-grow capacity pricing, which start as low as $250,000 list price and $140,000 street price. The first one was $695,000 list [and $395,000 street] so this dramatically lowers the price.”
Herzog said that while Violin’s customer base is presently highly concentrated in the upper end of global enterprises, these new models should broaden their base somewhat.
“This will get us into smaller enterprises, companies under $20 billion, as well as department level deployments of larger ones, particularly those with a pain point around SQL or Hyper-V loads,” Herzog said.
While the new models should broaden Violin’s market range, the new pricing strategy will also make the solutions more attractive to some customers. It will allow customers to scale their storage non-disruptively through new capacity expansion options that deliver 8.8 TB increments of raw all-flash capacity.
“These new models have the advantage that when you want to upgrade, you don’t have to buy a new shelf, and don’t have to rack and stack anything,” Herzog added.
The WFA family now has improved connectivity, adding support for 56 Gb FDR InfiniBand to its 10 Gb Ethernet support. It also now supports NFS 3.0 and NFS 4.1 for connectivity with application servers running operating systems such as Linux and UNIX.
“Our customers don’t buy flash as a point product, but instead use multiple applications on it, which makes NFS support important,” Herzog said.
Despite the many advantages of the WFA models, Herzog said that their traditional Violin 6000 all-flash array will continue to be their main product.
“Customers of the size we sell to typically have mixed environments, and while some customers have switched from our traditional product to WFA for their Windows environments, others have passed on it because Windows is a minority and they would rather just buy one part number for everything,” he said. “Our bellwether 6000 isn’t as flashy as WFA, but it does work on everything.”
Herzog thinks that the WFA’s market penetration is highly dependent on Microsoft SQL Server 2014’s success in the market.
“If WFA really takes off, it will be a third of our business, and if it doesn’t take off, it will be 20%,” he said. “It really depends if Microsoft can move up with SQL 2014 against Oracle, and if it does, then we will be right along for the ride.
Herzog noted that Violin is recruiting more Microsoft-centric VARs.
“That’s why we are going to this Microsoft WPC event,” he said. “If we are successful in partner recruitment, that could also push us into the 30-35% of our business range.”
Herzog indicated that Violin started a significant incentive to partners on July 1 that will run to the end of January.
“It’s available to partners globally, and is a very significant rebate these days,” he said. “It can be either for the company or a blend with sales people depending on the VAR’s policy.”
Finally, Herzog said that Violin will currently have even larger WFA solutions than the original one launched in April available.
“We are working on other configurations that are bigger than 280TB that will be announced in September,” he said.