Greenbytes now 100% software focused; Interview with CEO Steve O’Donnell

GreenBytesGreenBytes, 1st interview with CEO Steve O’Donnell
Date: 21 August 2013
GreenBytes Crunchbase profile

Interview with GreenBytes CEO Steve O’Donnell

Today I had a skypecall with Steve O’Donnell, CEO of Greenbytes. In first part of a two-part interview, we discussed Greenbytes’ business strategy in light of this recent news.

Read the in-depth interview with Steve O’Donnell

As an introduction, let’s focus on what Greenbytes do and where their product adds value.

Greenbytes value proposition: VDI

The storage market is highly varied in technical solutions and there many startups with equivalent approaches. The large number of startups are hard to pin down in a framework to reveal how they relate to each other. I aim to zoom in on several storage startups that caught my attention and find out what sets them apart.

Greenbytes offers a solution specifically for VDI environments / relieves the Storage array by handling the VDI environment. Their current solutions are I/O Offload engine (Array+Software) and vIO (Software only).

With I/O Offload engine, Greenbytes offered a separate array running the Greenbytes software that takes care of the VDI environment – relieving the SAN of much I/O traffic. Now Greenbytes decided to focus on vIO only.

vIO is software solution only, it runs a virtual appliance in the hypervisor that manages the virtual desktop environment. The solution runs on server-side flash and is efficiently deduplicated – relieving the SAN of I/O traffic.

Greenbytes do still have an appliance based IOOE, it is just made by and available via Dell Computers now.


Greenbytes offer the above value-add with their smart in-line deduplication technology. There are many deduplication techniques in the storage space that are hard to set apart in marketing speak and I see the opportunity to write an article to discern between these.

Without going to deeply into the technical details right now, Steve indicates that Greenbytes offers a particularly efficient deduplication with very low latency and overhead. They write straight to server-side persistent memory. This deduplication streamlines and reduces the I/O towards the Storage array and consequently speeds up the entire stack. The deduplication technique works at block-level, in Steve’s words it is ‘stupid’, simple, indiscriminating technology that works purely at blocklevel.

Why focus purely on VDI?

With this agnostic blocklevel technology, I asked Steve the question why they set out to focus on VDI, clearly more workloads can be deduplicated / accelerated. I asked Steve the question, why they set out to focus on VDI. The answer lies in focus & differentiation. In the crowded storage space, the VDI space is less crowded.

Greenbytes’ focus on VDI has made them stand out with clients primarily interested in the VDI usecase. Their standing out has in part to do with their increased attention to the VDI usecase and in part simply because it is easier to be top of class in a small classroom.

Why focus purely on Software?

This move has been primarily inspired by Steve’s strong conviction that hardware is commoditizing and true innovative power is in software right now. In line with Marc Andreesen’s ‘software eats the world’ proposition, Steve believes that 100% focus on software will deliver greater results. Leaving hardware with those companies that are good at hardware, Greenbytes has freed up its resources to further focus on their software.

Secondly, by choosing sides for Software, Greenbytes opened themselves up to a whole new group of friends. They are rapidly expanding and invigorating their partnerships with hardware oriented partners who are complementary to Greenbytes’ technology.

These partnerships bring Greenbytes fast-tracked access to a range of customers that are tied in to a specific storage vendor for various reasons. Greenbytes can now reach those customers and help its hardware shipping partners create better VDI propositions for their customers.

A recent new partnership that was announced yesterday is Clear Cube, a company that I had not read much about until today. The partnership provides a streamlined entry within the government space. Clear Cube is an active player in this space for a long time and complies with all the rules and regulations requirements business must qualify for.

Follow-up coming up

We covered too much in our Skypecall to fit in one blogpost and I wanted to first and foremost provide background on the recent news.

In a follow-up post later this week:

– Personal background on Steve
– Discussion on dominant developments in the storage market
– Effect of Greenbytes move toward software on competitors in the storage space

links and sources

The Register / Chris Mellor article Greenbytes

Greenbytes products

Marc Andreesen – ‘Software eats the World’

Clear Cube

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