There has never been a better time to be a data management company. Digital transformation initiatives, the rise of AI thrown into hyperdrive by ChatGPT and the vast expansion of edge computing all make data—and the transformation and analysis of data—critical for modern business. To that end, it seems like there is a new AI, analytics or other data-adjacent company launching every day trying to catch this wave. And all of these workloads need highly performant storage. More concretely, there is certainly a lot of VC money pouring into this part of the tech industry.
So, how does one discern between the winners and losers in a tech market that feels like 2000 all over again? Well, Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching,” and as painful as it is for this Red Sox fan to admit, he was right. And carefully watching a company like VAST Data certainly makes it seem like this is a company built for long-term success.
In a market brimming with both established companies and exciting startups, why VAST Data? I’ll share my thoughts on that in this piece.
VAST has a killer product
The first rule of establishing long-term success is to truly solve the challenges that customers face, and to do it compellingly. What’s the challenge in enterprise storage? Well, there are a few things. The first is summed up in one word: silos. Any company that’s been around for a while has multiple storage environments deployed to serve different functions. For example, AI’s latency requirements, not to mention its cost sensitivity, differ from those of a departmental database. Deploying multiple storage environments to support these disparate (and sometimes conflicting) requirements implies different storage architectures with different storage administrators and different protocols (e.g., NFS, SMB) across various cloud services (AWS S3, Azure Blob Storage, and so on).
The other challenge is complexity. It only takes a little imagination to see the complexity that’s introduced into an enterprise when deploying and maintaining file, block and object stores, whether we’re talking about resiliency or simply using the data within these stores. Life is difficult for administrators, developers and business users.
But complexity is not just about different storage types for different workloads. There’s also the locality issue. Data is generated, stored and used everywhere—in the datacenter, on the edge, on the far edge, on the industrial edge, in the cloud. Maintaining this distributed storage environment isn’t just challenging—it’s seemingly impossible.
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Finally, the cost of maintaining these different data stores can be prohibitive, if you haven’t hit that point yet, you should probably recheck your IT spend. This is so because of all the challenges outlined above.
But what if I could eliminate the siloes and simplify my storage architecture using a universal platform that accounted for performance, scale, complexity and existing silos? Wouldn’t that make life easier and lower my cost? The answer is yes, and VAST Data has delivered just such a solution.
Regardless of data type, data location or function, VAST has a single platform to manage the needs of the enterprise. And it does this with a design focus on openness, scalability and cost.
So, considering the first rule of long-term success—having a killer product—VAST Data earns a check mark.
VAST meets the needs of many
Here’s what I like about what VAST has designed. Its product sits at the foundational level for multiple technology inflection points—analytics, AI, generative AI—that all rely on data. Likewise, any database or data store type (SQL, graph, key-value, document, column-oriented etc.) requires a performant back-end storage layer. And finally, regardless of data locality, the performant foundational storage platform underlying it will dictate how well workloads perform.
I’ve seen a lot of companies come and go trying to meet the very specific needs of the market. In fact, I’ve been an employee at a few of these companies. Their lifespan is often limited due to the narrow focus or applicability of their offering, which means that their innovation might work only for one point in time in a market’s trajectory. By contrast, the VAST Data platform is engineered to be universal in terms of the functions it supports both today and in the long term.
VAST has won in the most competitive market segments
If you want to see a company’s potential, look at its customer base’s diversity, in terms of both segmentation and vertical industry. While a diverse customer base doesn’t guarantee success, a limited customer base certainly limits growth potential.
VAST has done an excellent job of winning in the markets where performance matters, across various customer types.
As you can see from this sampling of customers, VAST is winning across segments with widely divergent purchase criteria. Whether a customer is focused on performance, scale or TCO, VAST seems to have an answer. And this is happening across verticals, from education to life sciences to content management. Again, this universal appeal says a lot about the long-term prospects for VAST.
Partnerships validate VAST’s solution and drive its TAM expansion
Finally, when considering whether a company has the technology and appeal for the long term, look to its validation in the market. In the case of VAST, we can look at two of the technology partnerships it has formed.
In April, HPE announced a partnership with VAST for file storage. In this partnership, VAST will be the brains (i.e., software) behind the GreenLake for file storage solution (you can read my coverage of that here). And just a couple of weeks ago, Nvidia certified VAST as the first NAS solution for its DGX SuperPOD (learn more about that here).
These partnerships are essential for a couple of reasons. First, they validate VAST’s architecture and technology. When innovators select your company as a foundational part of their solutions, that’s a big deal.
Second, these partnerships expand VAST’s access to new markets. The company has already done quite well in the high-end storage market, but these partnerships should expand VAST’s total addressable market (TAM). I believe the HPE partnership will immediately impact VAST’s appeal “downstream,” while the Nvidia certification will raise awareness of VAST in the higher-performance market segments.
The data management and storage market is full of strong players and compelling solutions. I’ve been in the technology field for a long time as an IT executive, consultant, marketer and now analyst, but I’ve never experienced so much growth and dynamism. In the current market, we will definitely see winners and losers shake out. The winners will include established tech companies that have responded to the market’s needs as well as new entrants. And the losers will also include well-established companies along with newer entrants that fail to generate broad enough appeal.
From my vantage point of “observing by watching,” I’m putting VAST in the winner’s column. Is it still early in the game? Yes—but all the telltale signs are there.