Violin Memory steps out of bankruptcy, takes the storage stage again

Now a privately owned debt-free company

+Comment Violin Memory is back, as a privately owned company fresh out of bankruptcy.

The old flash array hardware and software company, which went bankrupt after a long and tortuous struggle, has been bought by Quantum Partners, a private investment fund run by Soros Fund Management LLC (SFM Private Equity).

We're told Violin retains its industry-leading, proprietary technology, strong customer base and innovative team of professionals – but not all of them. Most of the old senior management team has been swept aside and the new management bods are:

  • CEO and president - Ebrahim Abbasi, who was the SVP for Operations
  • CFO - Jim Curley
  • SVP customer success operations - Susan Scheer Aoki, who joined Violin in April 2015
  • Chief architect - Tim Stoakes
  • VP software development - Pat Balakrishnan
  • VP worldwide field operations - Georgine Nordin, who leads the sales and alliances strategy

A prepared quote from Abbasi said: "I am honored to lead the new company into the future and focus on product innovation and customer excellence." These points were repeated in a similar quote from Nicholas Esayan, principal with SFM Private Equity: "We are committed to support Violin in its tradition of customer excellence and product innovation."


Not surprisingly there's no individual exec focus on hardware development, which costs more money than software development. Chief architect Tim Stoakes has spent more than 15 years in the software industry and holds enterprise storage patents, so, with Pat Balakrishnan, we have two execs with a software focus.

El Reg wouldn't be surprised to see the risen-from-the-ashes Violin move towards software-defined storage and introduce a hardware supplier-agnostic theme to its software development. This view is based on the established incumbents – Dell, HPE, IBM, and NetApp – having strong all-flash array offerings; on Pure Storage having transitioned from startup to new incumbent; and on Kaminario having replenished its funding war chest with $75m in January. Tegile raised a not to be sneezed at $33m in April and Tintri is growing fast as well.

That's eight strong all-flash array hardware suppliers against whom Violin would need tens of millions of dollars in development money to build competing hardware.

We might, then, expect a fairly rapid pace of software development, with the introduction of NVMe SSD support, analytics with a machine learning and maybe chatbot flavour, and some form of partnership with server and storage hardware suppliers such as Supermicro and, possibly, Lenovo. Maybe Western Digital too, as its all-flash array needs software.

Violin has to decide on its stance towards hyperconverged and converged infrastructure as well. All said, Balakrishnan and Stoakes seem to us to be key players in Violin's development given these points.

The company is assuring customers of its committment to supporting them, which is obviously a good thing and vital to it retaining its customer base. Future hardware sales look ... well, tricky, and there is no public hardware road map; again, not surprisingly given the competitive situation outlined above.

Welcome back Violinists. We look forward to you tuning your instruments and giving us fresh tunes. ®

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