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Pre-IPO Tegile looking at flash tiering, scale-out and the cloud

Dual-controller hybrid array tech set to extend and expand

+Comment Hybrid and all-flash array startup Tegile has got itself an interesting roadmap to extend its hybrid array tech and expand sideways into adjacent storage markets.

Tegile is one of three busily growing companies touting built-from-the-ground-up hybrid array software. Nimble Storage has made the IPO jump into being a self-sustaining business. Tintri, with total funding of $135m compared to Tegile’s $47.5m, is like Tegile in a pre-IPO phase of growth.

The three, together with other hybrid array suppliers like X-IO and Nexgen, claim they offer better SAN gear than the hybrid configurations available from mainstream SAN suppliers Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HDS, HP, IBM, and NetApp. However, generally speaking, none of these suppliers admit to being troubled by the TNT trio and their dynamite growth.

Tegile products have in-line deduplication and compression, and the company offers both block and file access. It also offers the Intellistack converged system using Cisco UCS servers and networking hardware.

El Reg thinks that mainstream networked SAN/file storage is under assault from several newer technologies; all-flash arrays, hybrid arrays, scale-out systems, hyper-converged systems, object storage, Hadoop-style Big Data storage, and public cloud storage. None of these technologies look like “The One” that will dominate traditional SAN/file arrays.

We have wondered if suppliers in these so-far separate silos will start expanding sideways so as to take a chunk of the SAN/NAS market away from the mainstreamers.

We talked to Rob Commins, Tegile’s veep of marketing, about its progress and plans against this background.

El Reg: How are the all-flash configurations doing?

Rob Commins: We started shipping about a year ago and it’s now around 20 per cent of our business.

El Reg: Any changes in the competitive space?

Rob Commins: Tintri is being met less in competitive engagements.

El Reg: Tell us about the Cisco relationship.

Rob Commins: Our CEO and CTO pre-Tegile had sold Perfigo and its network access control product to Cisco in 2004. They spent time in the UCS server team before their golden handcuffs fell off. That helped the Tegile-Cisco relationship.

El Reg: Can you talk about your roadmap, please?

Rob Commins: A cloud backend is on Tegile’s radar. We have early-stage software which plugs into OpenStack Cinder. This gives us two tiers: cache to accelerate data access, and disk for tier one and cloud for tier two.

El Reg: So you have potential public cloud backends such as AWS, Azure and Google?

Rob Commins: I can’t say. We do have an agility pricing program which monetizes data reduction. It charges on the basis of GB loaded after dedupe and compression. If you assume a 4:1 data reduction rate, I can sit at Amazon layer-two storage pricing.

El Reg: That’s nice for resellers.

Rob Commins: Umm. We also have Intellicare, introduced a couple of months ago. It’s similar to Nimble from an analytics and support standpoint.

El Reg: What about flash tiers?

Rob Commins: SSDs are the optimal performance media today with disk as the optimal capacity media. We’ll put PCIe flash in the front-end and cheap/deep flash (3D TLC) once we see the cost and reliability are where we want them to be.

El Reg: You would say Pure, Solidfire, XtremIO and others don’t have the architecture to move data from tier one to cache or down to tier two?

Rob Commins: Tegile’s architecture is a nice, long-term play.

El Reg: IPO plans?

Rob Commins: An IPO is in our planning and could be within 12 to 24 months.

El Reg: The storage world seems to be in a stable shape, with the mainstream SAN/filer vendors facing a mix of attacks from all-flash arrays, hybrid arrays, scale-out systems, converged/hyper-converged systems, object storage, Hadoop-style Big Data storage, and public cloud storage.

Rob Commins: It’s the new normal. This could go on for 12, 24, even 36 months before something gets resolved. Everybody in these new areas has a chance. There is a massive amount of TAM (Total Addressable Market) in each market. Today Tegile is a classic dual-controller design. Scale-out is in our near-term plans with clustering using 40Gbit Ethernet and four protocols: NFS, SMB, Fibre Channel [over Ethernet] and iSCSI.


Tegile’s roadmap looks interesting, with PCIe flash coming for faster-than-SSD data access, 3D/TLC flash for cheaper and deeper flash storage, a public cloud backend for bulk data storage, and scale-out clustering as an extension of its dual-controller design.

These give Tegile access to adjacent storage markets so it will have products in the all-flash array, new hybrid two-controller array, scale-out file and block, and cloud back-end areas of the market.

The corollary to the storage technology world being stable for up to three years means Tegile sees itself as having unfettered access to growth markets. The mainstream vendors, we see it thinking, have no answer to the new suppliers' next-generation tech, unless they make acquisitions.

Will the fractured, multi-silo storage world come together in some new shape resembling a fresh interpretation of the old SAN/filer world? No one actually knows.

While this market opportunity is in front of it, Tegile sees itself as a next-generation NetApp in the making, meaning NetApp as it was twenty years ago. There is everything to play for and no obvious big elephant in the storage room that could stomp on it. ®

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