I have a soft spot for underdog vendors. Like many of you, I've been there — working at a small vendor competing against the behemoths or working on a small emerging underdog product within a behemoth, competing for airtime and survival. I know that it's tough to get the word out when you are outspent on marketing by a factor of 10:1 or more.
So I'm going to keep going down the "vendors under the radar" path to call attention to vendors you may not have heard of that are doing cool things, but may be under the radar because they don't have the big budgets.
Next up: StorMagic.
There was a lot of press about Cisco's HyperFlex move last week. It certainly creates an interesting dynamic when Cisco enters the hyperconverged space and competes against partners like EMC and VMware in a much more direct way. And good for Cisco's storage OEM for HyperFlex, SpringPath, with the great press that the Cisco launch generated (and it's really not surprising that SpringPath got some good mention if reports are true about Cisco leading a SpringPath investment round) . So why am I talking about SpringPath in a blog about StorMagic? Because StorMagic is Cisco's vendor under the radar. And not just Cisco's.
StorMagic is software-defined storage that provides an inexpensive HA vSAN environment that supports hyperconverged platforms. It is also OEM'd by Cisco, and can be found in the lower-priced systems (sub $50k range), providing an affordable solution well-targeted towards remote and branch offices or edge computing applications. The starting price for the SpringPath system is about $59k (list), and it is targeted more towards an enterprise use case, so they really don't compete head-to-head. StorMagic can also be found shipped in some Lenovo hyperconverged systems (again, the affordable edge/ROBO solutions), where StorMagic has a co-marketing agreement as a supported configuration and is supported through the Lenovo channel (including Arrow). There are a few other OEM deals that appear to be progressing nicely, and through the StorMagic partners program, they now claim to have more than 1,000 production customers and are growing the SME business via the channel.
There is a clear market for this size and type of system, where HA is important and price can make or break the deal. For example, retail stores. StorMagic has seen success here, and is installed at one of my favorite retailers (with over 1,100 stores) to support the app that lets them do real-time pricing (via live price tags) and discounting. This retailer prides itself on the use of technology as a competitive advantage to improve the customer shopping experience, and StorMagic is right there with them.
And edge computing is another area that requires high availability and an affordable entry price — think about monitoring sensor data to do real-time predictive break/fix analysis in an IoT environment, or collision avoidance by monitoring rail traffic. You really, really need HA here: in the first example, business depends on it. In the second example, lives depend on it. But you can't put an enterprise-scale HA solution at 1,100 stores or on every train.
So, unlike Avere, which is under the radar thanks to its continued laser focus on where it has clear competitive advantages, StorMagic is under the radar for a lot of reasons. It's small. Its OEM/pure partner strategy means it doesn't get its brand out there. And it doesn't have vendors like Cisco behind its funding so it doesn't get the brand drag. But it sells to compelling use cases that most of the storage behemoths only dabble in (for example, price/volume has not been a core EMC, HDS or NetApp game plan, ever!) and is certainly a company worth watching.