Fremont CA-based BiTMICRO Networks was founded in 1995 – an old, old company by IT standards. Until very recently however, it has been focused on a niche market – SSDs for military and industrial users. Now it is emerging with a new line of SSDs aimed at the enterprise market, the MAXio E-Series, which offer much more capacity than SSDs typically provide.
“When we started in 1995, there wasn’t an SSD marketplace, but there was demand from military and industrial users for drives which were more robust and lower energy,” said Zophar Sante, Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales at BiTMICRO. “We addressed that market, supplying companies like Boeing and Curtiss-Wright. We build and design everything ourselves, and have a lot of good foundation patents, and a full development ecosystem.”
As BiTMICRO grew, it was confronted with the problem that the growth of the enterprise and consumer SSD markets had left their traditional market a tiny sliver of the addressable SSD space, so about four years ago, they began to consider how best to address the enterprise. At first, they investigated acquiring another company, but finally decided that since they had the infrastructure to develop an ASIC and build their own product from the ground up they would do that. The MAXio products are the result.
The enterprise SSD space is a very congested one, with major players like LSI and Intel as well as other focused players. BiTMICRO believes that it can differentiate itself from this crowded field because while they focus on IOPS, BiTMICRO focuses on capacity.
“We aren’t going so much after IOPS,” Sante said. “We think of the problem differently. IOPS are great but at the end of the day, we are trying to displace hard drives and push them into secondary and tertiary applications. So we can’t just talk about IOPS — because HDDs aren’t all that fast. We talk about capacity. The E series is the first we are announcing, and it gives resellers a product that will deliver 6 TB of solid state memory. That’s the capacity they need to start replacing hard drives.”
MAXio’s E-Series SSDs incorporate a Split-ASIC architecture which utilize BiTMICRO’s own patented Talino ASIC architecture, and BiTMICRO FBX flash expansion ASIC. The E-Series SSD capacities are from 1.5TB to 6TB. They are designed for ideal performance in read-intensive applications, and the flash controller optimizes flash, performance and scalability.
“We won’t kick HDs out of bed based on price, that’s impossible, but we will be the lowest per capacity point of the SSD vendors,” Sante said. HD “At 4 bucks per GB you are looking at $6000 for a 1.5 TB drive. The price gives our resellers a reason to call their customers up.”
BitMICRO also plans to offer two additional series. The Z series, scheduled to come out at the end of the year, will be a performance offering. The C series will offer even higher capacity SSD drives, up to 12 TB.
“The really large capacity drives are great for companies like Netflix, so the customer doesn’t have to take time bouncing back to the HDD to get the video,” Sante said. “Online analytics, online gaming, and online gambling are other clear use cases.”
BiTMICRO’s go-to-market strategy for these drives is to handle the Tier One storage OEMS directly, but work with partners, and leverage their customer relationships, everywhere else.
“We want to work with true VARs in the field who add value, not resellers like PC Mall,” Sante said. “That won’t work for us. Our product is too high value for them. We need resellers who understand how to position to their customer base.” He said about 20 partners would give them the coverage they want in the U.S. and Canada.
While BiTMICRO had a channel program for their traditional business, they have designed a new one for MAXio partners, which includes the expected support like deal registration, marketing coop funds, lead generation support, product training, demo and evaluation units, and frontline technical support.
“We need to make sure there is revenue for partners, so that it’s a win-win,” Sante said. “We have to let resellers make 30 points on product.”
Sante also said partners will benefit from BiTMICRO’s unique positioning.
“We talk capacity, capacity, capacity, and everyone else talks performance, performance, performance,” he said. “They can have a different conversation with customers about capacity. We think when resellers look at our product, how we position it, and the margins available, they will lead with us.”