Kaminario's Dani Golan reaches for the sky

Former IDF fighter pilot aims high as CEO


Profile Dani Golan stands on the roof of his Israeli headquarters and points out features of the scenery: an 8,000 year-old ruin here, an ancient trade route there, a modern highway alongside the building, a sign to Nazareth, and fighter jets taking off from a nearby airforce base with thunderous, sky-filling roars.

Dani is founder and CEO of all-flash array firm Kaminari, and our guide to this portion of a press trip to look at Israeli startups.

Golan founded Kaminario with Moshe Selfin and Ofir Dubovi in 2008 to make an all-DRAM grid-in-a-box array. It didn't take off, so they bailed out and switched to an all-flash array instead.

Selfin was vice president for marketing and products, and left in August 2010 for Anobit, the flash controller company bought by Apple. He is now COO of Credorax.

Dubovi was COO and CFO, and left in October 2012, and Golan became sole leader of Kaminario.

Dani_and_F16

Israeli rules ban photos showing pilot's faces with planes. So here is a silhouette of someone in an F16.

Dani had been an IDF fighter pilot, one of the elite, flying his IAI Kfir jet or an F16 and managing missions. He didn't fly his jet from the air base near Kaminario's office, but every jet taking off from there will trigger memories of his 1990-1996 IDF days.

In between streaking through the sky, Golan, married and with an infant child, studied electrical engineering ("because it was the toughest thing to do") as a mature student at the Technion university in Haifa. He gained a BSc degree, finished his air force service and went to work as an electrical engineer – not an exceptional one he says – at Intel.

But being the kind of guy who likes challenges, he wanted to go way beyond designing better ways of using amps and volts. "The most fascinating thing in life is people. I wanted to combine the people aspect with technology," he says.

Living in America

Eager to learn how businesses work and run his own company, Golan decided to study business at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. "I really wanted to study business at the best place in the world, and also get to know America," he says.

Students on Kelogg's two-year exec MBA course are required to have a full-time job, so he persuaded Intel to move him over to the USA and brought his wife and child with him.

Golan is a persuasive guy, always outlining a vision of how great it is going to be and arguing the logical necessity of it all. "Let me tell you why I believe that…" he keeps saying, with an obvious need for you to agree.

He sees relationships as a full-time job, and everything is family. Kaminario is his work family, his backers are his funding family, channel partners are a reselling family, and Israel and its citizens are another, huge family.

Golan believes people work for, invest in, sell to, buy from and care for people. He wants people to be believe in him and be successful with him, and is good at connecting with others. It's part of his talent, and sometimes almost overwhelming. For him, relationships are not a light matter.

Dani gets the call

While Golan was studying at Kellogg and working for Intel, he got a call from Moshe Yanai, ex-tank commander in the IDF, Technion electrical engineering graduate, helicopter pilot, EMC engineering wizard, vice president of the Symmetrix group and its product creator at Hopkinton. It was as if a storage deity had called after hearing about Golan from a contact in the IDF.

Golan started working at EMC in July 2001*, doing software things; Joe Tucci had become EMC CEO in January 2001, after joining as president and COO in 2000. (Tucci replaced Michael Ruettger, the previous CEO, and then forced Moshe Yanai** out later in 2001, earlier having moved him into an advisory position.)

Symmetrix technology had fallen behind the competition (in not using Fibre Channel, for example), and lower-cost CLARiiON (what became VNX) array sales and development hadn't been prioritised. Tucci started cleaning out EMC's stables in response to a severe revenue downturn as customers stopped buying Symmetrix arrays.

Revenues slumped from $8.9bn in 2000 to $6.8bn in 2001. Cuts had to be made. About 10,000 staff were laid off out of a total 26,000. The blood-letting started in May, two months before Golan joined, with several layoff rounds in the next few months. Golan was lucky to be taken on when all this was going on.

He gained an MBA from Kellogg in 2003 and moved into EMC's NAS IP business, reporting to vice chairman Bill Teuber in 2006 and working on strategy.

You don't get to be a CEO without promoting yourself to others, and Dani says: "Joe Tucci noticed me and admitted me to the exec management team when I was a relative kid. He would always ask the opinion of junior people in the room. I told him he should invest in VMware."

Performix move

Then Golan got an offer to be the COO of Performix, a BI/workforce performance management company. He says he had long and painful discussions with people, including Tucci, before accepting.

Performix had been acquired by Israel-based Nice Systems back in 2006, and Golan was involved in the Performix reshaping. This is where he got his operational management experience.

A big problem Performix customers had was getting data off storage arrays fast enough. They had IO bottlenecks.

Ofir Dubovi was a vice president and COO at Performix, and became the COO for Nice Systems in late 2006. So now we have two of Kaminario's co-founders working for the same business.

Where did Moshe Selfin come from? At that time he was an international sales and business development leader at IBM, having joined from being a solutions director at EMC in September 2006. He managed IBM's Israel software-as-a-service (SaaS) programme.

Dubovi, Golan and Selfin set up Kaminario together to fix the storage IO bottleneck problem. They based it in Israel in 2008, working out of the bomb shelter located on one floor of the current office building in Yokneam, north of Tel Aviv. Selfin is credited with inventing Kaminario's DRAM-based original K2 array.

Dani_and_Einstein_quote

Dani Golan with his favourite inspirational quote

Life is a serious business for Dani, beneath the sense of fun he promotes in Kaminario. He sets himself challenges and surrounds his staff with inspirational quotations and messages. One is Albert Einstein’s “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.”

Dani_Golan_Standing

Kaminario CEO being persuasive

Golan likes trying out new dishes in restaurants, learning new skills and mastering problems. He has a knack of focusing intently, as if pushing a lighthouse beam through a microscope – which can be unnerving if you are the item on the specimen slide.

Golan treats Kaminario rather like a favourite toy. It’s going to be a truly great company, he is more than willing to explain. However long you give him, he will beam that lighthouse intensity into your brain and have you believing it too. ®

* Footnote Doron Kempel, SimpliVity's CEO, headed a media solutions group at EMC from 1998 to September 2001. Kaminario's position as an all-flash array supplier is somewhat similar to SimpliVity's in the HCIA market: both are second to a larger, post-IPO former startup: Pure for Kaminario and Nutanix for SimpliVity.

** Footnote 2 A joke at the time was that EMC stood for “eventually Moshe’s company".

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022