BitMICRO, which has transitioned their emphasis from the much smaller military SSD market, is focusing on high capacity drives as one of their key differentiators, and the new Z-Series SSDs go up to 8.8 TB.
This week, at the Flash Memory Summit, Fremont CA-based BiTMICRO Networks is completing its transformation from a niche-market player who makes SSDs for military and industrial users, to an enterprise player. Last year they entered the enterprise space with a high capacity offering, the MAXio E-Series, with up to 6 TB drives. Now they are announcing the MAXio Z-Series SSDs, which go up to 8.8 TB in a PCIe edge card form factor, as well as announcing two MAXio all-flash arrays. BiTMICRO is also rebranding to fit its new positioning, with a new logo, website, and solution messaging.
When BiTMICRO started up – twenty years ago – the SSD market didn’t exist. There was however a healthy demand from military and industrial users for robust, low energy drives, and the company built up its business developing and making such custom drives for companies like Boeing and Curtiss-Wright. This was satisfactory for many years. However by 2010, the growth of the SSD market had completely dwarfed the military and industrial market in which they played, so they made the decision to develop an ASIC and build an enterprise product from the ground up.
“We were a staunch Department of Defense supplier, but were not moving out beyond that, and we wanted to break out of that position,” said Zophar Sante, Manager of Strategic Accounts at BiTMICRO. “So we switched our emphasis from devices that service military and industrial markets and evolved to suit the enterprise. We had to do that to grow, and we got our own ASIC under our belt as the MAXio E-Series.” They continue to make their traditional products – their Altima Military and Industrial SSDs – but are now looking to the MAXio PCIe drives and all-flash storage to drive the business.
The E-Series, like the new Z-Series being announced, are high-capacity devices for customers with large volumes of application workloads
“We decided to focus on high capacity SSD storage, because we couldn’t go head to head with companies like Intel and Samsung on everything,” Sante said.
The new BiTMICRO MAXio Z-Series SSDs are based on the Talino ASIC architecture developed for the E-Series, and have two ASIC flash controllers for enhanced application performance, as well as features like patented SecurErase military-grade data security technology developed for their Defense business. The Z-Series also supports higher storage capacities—up to 8.8 TB in a PCIe edge card form factor. Its DriveLight Management Software lets users simplify MAXio SSD administration.
“With the significantly higher capacity and more performance from the two ASICs on board, the whole system will look like one big fast continuous SSD,” Sante said. “Instead of needing 100 servers, with this you can do it with 20, which means great operational payback to save on space, power and cooling. That’s the story our channel is using.”
The Z-Series is aimed at a broad range of enterprise applications including video on demand, database acceleration, online analytics, file servers, cloud services and virtualization. It is scheduled to ship in 45 to 60 days, at a price of less than $2 per GB.
“When I was a reseller, I found we needed a good story to make a game-changer product, and we believe this one is a pretty good story,” Sante said. “It is very unique, and doesn’t require a lot of storage services.”
BitMICRO is also introducing two all-flash arrays. One is the MAXio iSCSI N1A6, a 1U rack system which has 16 TB raw and 11.4 TB usable capacity.
“This flash array is not a ‘bling’ product,” Sante said. “It’s simple and cost effective, a big fast storage system to be centrally used.” It is scheduled to ship in a couple weeks.
The other flash array is the MAXio iSCSI N3P4, a 3U rack system with over 26 TB raw and up to 70 TB raw once dedupe, RAID and provisioning are factored in. BitMICRO rates the usable capacity of this 3U system at nearly 157 TB.
“The 3U system will really add value for partners, with up to 70 TB of raw SSD capacity in a single footprint,” Sante said.
BiTMICRO’s go-to-market strategy is to handle the Tier One storage OEMS directly, but work with high-value partners, and leverage their customer relationships, everywhere else. They have designed a channel program for the MAXio business, which includes deal registration, marketing coop funds, lead generation support, product training, demo and evaluation units, and frontline technical support.
Sante said that between 20 and 30 partners in North America would give them the coverage they want.
“We have 11 signed up now,” he said. “This isn’t the kind of product where we would want 200 partners in the U.S. alone. This isn’t the kind of product they would have access to anywhere else.”
Finally, along with the new enterprise focus comes a new logo, and new branding.
“We concluded we had to change our image from a DoD company – so out with the old logo and in with the new,” Sante said. “We also wanted to lighten up. The old logo was red and black.”