After EMC-TwinStrata, can independent cloud storage gateway players stay that way?


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With storage giant EMC gobbling up TwinStrata, two years after Microsoft did the same with StorSimple, you have to wonder about the fate of the remaining independent cloud storage gateway providers.

Can Avere Systems, Nasuni, Panzura and CTERA Networks remain on their own? Do they want to? I’m guessing execs at those companies would argue that this is a big market, but there’s no question it is also hotly competitive, and with EMC(s emc) and Microsoft(s msft) throwing their weight around, things will likely heat up further.

That’s not to say the independents are staying still. A day after the EMC news, Panzura said it’s partnering with Google(s goog) to offer 2TB of free storage (for a year) in conjunction with the Google Cloud Platform.

“By enabling businesses to continue to use traditional on premises storage protocols while seamlessly moving data to the Google object store in the cloud, Google and Panzura are removing the barriers to cloud adoption,” Panzura said in a statement.

Update: As the dust settles from theEMC deal, the independents are (as usual) claiming that the acquisition validates their business plan. This morning, this came in from CTERA’s  SVP of marketing Jeff Denworth:

“The world is moving toward enabling cloud storage adoption, bridging to new IT deployment models. This acquisition signals a validation of CTERA’s product category and focus. The EMC VMAX product team is echoing the already strong partnership we have with the EMC ViPR team.”

Earlier this month CTERA closed $25 million in new VC backing, bringing total funding to about $45 million. By some estimates more than $200 million in venture capital has flowed into cloud storage gateways since 2010.

Reached for comment after the TwinStrata news, Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez (pictured below) said he did not view TwinStrata as a direct competitor to Nasuni since it focuses on block storage only. Rather, he considers Panzura and Avere to be Nasuni’s most direct rivals.

Not surprisingly, Rodriguez also said he expects the acquisition to benefit the remaining serious players.

“We are all trying to build better storage systems and that vision goes far beyond using the cloud as a dumping ground for unused data. Not having these basic block-gateways trying to compete for attention will reduce the level of noise in the market and, just like with StorSimple, once any technology is in the hands of a large company, it has a way of disappearing.”

Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez

Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez

He acknowledged, however, that the EMC-TwinStrata news will “cause a lot of noise in the market” for the foreseeable future.

That “noise” includes a growing feeling that independent cloud storage gateway companies are playing a high-stakes game of musical chairs — with a limited number of chairs (buyers) still available.

This story was updated at 12:39 p.m. PST with CTERA comment.


Joe Arnold

Joe Arnold from SwiftStack – The trend we are seeing is that customers want an integrated experience. Our view is that a gateway is a bridge to assist in getting data into the cloud storage environment. We just announced our own SwiftStack Gateway which integrates with our private cloud storage platform. The main differentiator is data that comes through the SwiftStack Gateway is also available via the HTTP API. This bridge allows workflows to span file and object. Take a look at The current gateways in the market restrict data access only through the gateway that it came in from which is the biggest downside.

Gateway access will more and more be rolled up into the storage providers themselves as it provides an integrated experience. But what will remain will be applications that integrate with the storage platform that provide backup, sync&share/collaboration that serve as products in their own right.

Marc Farley

Hi Barb, Marc Farley here from the StorSimple/Microsoft team. I think the remaining vendors like Nasuni can continue to survive and do well, even though they might wish we would disappear. One of the things that I think will happen is that people will start getting smarter about hybrid cloud storage and the very different things these products are used for. A vendor that is viewed as just a gateway might not have much of a chance because it’s vital to add more value than just being an on-ramp. Without knowing EMC’s plans for TwinStrata, I’d guess if they do anything with it, the TwinStrata technology would be used as a way to provide storage management like StorSimple does rather than a collaboration play like Nasuni or Panzura. FWIW, the StorSimple business is quite a bit different with a value proposition of solving IT storage management problems like managing data growth, automating off-site data protection and increasing IT agility. FWIW, the timing of all this is interesting as we are announcing our new 8000 series product line today, which readers can find out about at The gateway category is mostly a non-category – something that was created at the early stages of technology development before people understand the breadth of hybrid cloud storage functionality. Is SQL Server 2014 a gateway because it backs up to the cloud? Is Azure Site Recovery a gateway because it moves data to Azure storage? If the answer is no because it’s software, what about a virtual gateway? The fact is there are many, many ways for data to be placed in and used in the cloud. Gateway doesn’t help describe any of them except in their most rudimentary forms.

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