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All-flash fight looms as SolidFire nabs former Bocada CEO

Hurley Burley lighting up a marketing fire for the array startup

All-flash array startup SolidFire has recruited Nancy Hurley as product marketing veep, giving it a triumvirate of marketing execs, as competition with the industry's big boys looks set to intensify.

Hurley was former CEO at Bocada, a data protection level reporting company, which she left in June 2013, after she and the board had differences about the company's direction. Bocada still has no replacement CEO listed on its website more than a year later.

She joins Jay Prassl, marketing veep, and both report to chief marketing officer (CMO) James Whitemore. Prassl looks after SolidFire's brand and marketing efforts

In 2005, Nancy Hurley worked at Sun as senior director of Storage Software Marketing, having joined from the ESG analytical research company. Whitemore joined SolidFire in June this year and his CV includes being VP and CMO for Sun Microsystems' Storage Products Group at the time Hurley was at Sun.

SolidFire has an unusually heavyweight marketing function now, particularly for a startup, with this CMO and twin VP structure. Competitor Pure Storage has Luanne Dauber as its VP for global marketing and that's it, with no other VP-level or above people listed. Violin has the ebullient Eric Herzog as its CMO and SVP of alliances, again absent of VP-level support

Why does Whitemore need two VPs reporting to him? SolidFire says "his focus is on building teams, programs and solutions that are organised around the customer, understanding and meeting the needs of an ever-more diverse and global customer base."

There is intense competition selling all-flash arrays to enterprises and cloud service providers – think Cisco, Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM, Kaminario, NetApp, Skyera, Tegile, Violin Memory and more.

Just relying on speeds and feeds won't cut it, especially for a startup taking on mainstream heavyweights.

SolidFire was early into effective niche marketing with its quality-of-service function identified as key for cloud service providers. Now it's moving into selling to enterprises.

Developing a well-understood and differentiated company (and product message) to stand out against the competition looks like a key concern of CEO and founder Dave Wright.

Whitemore's team has to outgun all the other marketing whizzes at SolidFire's competition - they have to deliver marketing fire. Enabling SolidFire to stand out from the general product marketing hurly-burly is Nancy Hurley's part in that. ®

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