Oracle’s Flash Storage Division Goes away

By Hubert Yoshida posted 08-22-2019 00:26

Oracle is closing down its flash storage division and laying off at least 300 employees, according to The Register. Employees were told of the mass redundancies on 15 August by Mike Workman, senior VP of Storage at Oracle via a conference call. “A middle ranking outgoing staffer at Oracle, told The Register: "Today, Larry's band of storage misfits, aka Pillar Data, was quietly let go and the product discontinued. A small number of people were kept [on to] take the product to the grave."

Only last June, IDC reported Worldwide Enterprise Storage Systems All Flash Array (AFA) market revenue generated just over $2.47 billion in revenue during the 1stquarter, up 17.5% year over year and the Hybrid Flash Array (HFA) market was worth slightly more than $2.81 billion in revenue, up 8.6% from 1Q18. While the overall Enterprise Storage Systems market revenue declined 0.6% during this quarter, AFA and HFA revenues were still going strong. However, since then, there has been a rout in the AFA markets with AFA vendors like Pure and Netapp reporting lower revenues which resulted in major impacts on their stock prices. The demise of Oracle’s AFA business just adds to this decline. It will be interesting to see what the 2Q numbers will show.

I believe that a major cause of this disruption comes from the digital transformation that is shaking up most of our enterprise businesses. Enterprises are focused less on storage and more on business outcomes. Enterprises are shifting from Data Generating to Data Powered Organizations. Big Data systems and data lakes are becoming the center of gravity in terms of storage, access and operations. Just as DevOps has helped to accelerate the innovation and development of applications, enterprises are turning to DataOps platforms, tools and processes to curate the data so that data engineers, data scientists, and business administrators can enrich and activate the data that data consumers need to drive new business outcomes. 

Storage companies that are “purely” storage companies will not survive if they only sell storage, no matter how good their flash or NVMe technology is. Storage must be part of the DataOps eco system which includes public cloud, object store, and AI/ML. By this time next year there will be even fewer AFA storage vendors.