Insights, Best Practices and Forward Thinking from the Customer Facing Team, Solution Architects and Leaders on Extreme Performance Applications, Infrastructure, Storage and the Real-World Impact Possible

Why Violin?

by Mark Lewis on May 16, 2018

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Greetings. Since accepting the role of CEO many folks have asked why I decided to join the Violin Systems team. Over my long career, I have held a wide variety of roles within the storage and enterprise software industries (it feels as though I’ve been in the storage industry for eons!). When choosing any new role, opportunity or company I look for one important common denominator. It’s not a particular job function or size of the organization; I must have a passion for and belief in the company’s mission.

When I moved from Compaq/HP to EMC in the early 2000s many couldn’t understand my “defection” to such a serious rival. The simple fact was that I was convinced that EMC was embarking on a new and exciting mission. Ten years later, EMC had accomplished one of the most successful metamorphisms in the industry — transforming a $5B enterprise storage company into a $20B IT infrastructure and software leader. It was a ton of fun to be a part of this revolution.

Transformations are hard, and I’ve learned first-hand that they aren’t always successful. A startup that I launched in 2012, Formation Data Systems, built revolutionary storage technology but lacked the capitalization to see the vision through to mainstream adoption. While I am still very bullish on the potential for Software Defined Storage, it is clear that adoption will be a long process.

The storage market is by no means monolithic. While segments such as cloud storage tend to dominate the technology headlines, there are many other exciting transformations happening within the overall storage market. And I’m convinced Violin will lead one of these “other” transformations.

Across the Application landscape, companies have migrated many less critical “commodity” applications to cloud (SaaS) providers. These include applications like email, document sharing, HR, and CRM. This makes total sense; the internal email application for a company is not going to differentiate them so why not outsource it to Google or Microsoft. This rapid migration to SaaS Applications might lead some to believe that this will eventually happen to all applications – that is not the case. To survive, companies must remain focused on building their own applications where they can add UNIQUE and DIFFERENTIATED value. These may be in the areas of ERP or data analytics or new commercial IOT and AI functions. If you intend to use technology for differentiation, then you need to own it – it’s that simple. AWS, which is a differentiated offering from Amazon, is 100% internally developed – go figure.

banner-lights-man-socialFor these critical enterprise applications, the competitive value is in large part based on application performance. This is where Violin is disrupting the storage industry. The old adage “speed is life” comes to mind. Simply put, companies increase their profitability by making their business-critical applications run faster. From improving the diagnostic speed of healthcare applications to reducing inventory while providing better product availability. From airline reservation systems to financial trading systems one key foundation for differentiation is speed. A simple example; a major retailer was struggling to get the right products to their stores because it was taking too long to process nightly inventory reports. With the addition of Violin Extreme Performance Arrays, we reduced inventory processing time by almost 10X without compromising data integrity. That allowed the retailer to restock inventory one day sooner which drove significant savings.

At Violin, our mission is to build the HIGHEST performance enterprise storage systems in the industry. There are companies today with enterprise-class flash storage as well as startups endeavoring to produce ultra-high-performance storage. None, however offer what enterprise applications require which is BOTH extreme performance AND a full-suite of enterprise-class features. We combine the power of storage-class memory performance with an unparalleled set of value-added features including multi-site DR, data deduplication, and proactive analytics. This combination is the key. Performance without absolute data integrity simply is not an option for enterprise applications. And while Violin has had some missteps in the past, the team has learned from these hard lessons and is now more determined than ever to deliver a product that surpasses any other storage product on the market today.

I have always had a passion for innovation. And what I see at Violin is the best of both worlds. Our team possesses the energy and passion of a startup, yet we also have a pedigree and track record of enduring success. Today we serve over 150 enterprise customers in the Fortune 500, 4 of the top 5 software companies, 7 of the Top 15 IT companies and 5 of the top 10 Telco’s in the world. This combination of innovation and experience drives our mission to enable enterprise application performance and capabilities to reach new levels of power and performance.

And I couldn’t be happier to join this incredible team at such a fortuitous time. Check out the new Violin System’s website to learn more at https://www.violinsystems.com