Another SSD Hardware Startup Gets Cash. When’s the Shakeout?

Kaminario, which provides high-performance SSD storage said on Monday it has raised a $15 million C round of financing, and it dropped the name of a new customer, as well. New investor Globespan Capital Partners was joined in the round by current investors Sequoia Capital and Pitango Venture Capital and the customer win was Leumi, the largest financial institution in Israel. But with SSD startups hitting maturity and the market for using solid state drives in data centers for high-performance and energy-efficient storage heating up, when will be see the inevitable consolidation?

Kaminario sells the K2 appliance, which delivers faster access to more information via a blade-based DRAM array. The DRAM array has cost advantages over Flash-based solid-state drives, which puts Kaminario in a slightly different category than the other SSD folks who are generally using Flash memory. However it’s still banking on similar trends of enterprises needing faster access to more data. Kaminario launched last June about the same time as Anobit, another storage vendor that is offering a cheaper variation of SSDs (Anobit shares Pintango as an investor).

Joining their ranks are Violin Memory, Pliant and Fusion-io, which filed in March for an initial public offering. At the time I said, and still believe, that it would much rather get bought. So, with all these startups trying to sell some version of better, faster, cheaper SSDs into the enterprise, who’s likely to pick up the technology? Obvious buyers would be Intel (s intc), which is a huge vendor of SSDs, any of the memory giants Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate (s stx) or Western Digital (s wdc), or perhaps even a computing vendor such as Dell (s dell) Hewlett Packard (s hpq) or IBM (s ibm) if the server becomes just another component in the data center.

Because Violin and Kaminario both sell storage appliances they may be a better fit for storage vendors who get a complete product line, whereas Pliant and Fusion-io are more in the component space and may be a better product for storage or server vendors. Anobit, because it offers a way to boost the performance of a cheaper type of Flash memory could be a good fit with an actual memory maker such as Samsung or Intel.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons contributor Greg L. Wright.