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Company Profile: X-IO Technologies

Finally to emerge with forthcoming all-SSD subsystem?

X-IO Technologies (Xiotech Corporation)

HQs in CO Springs, CO, offices in Austin TX, Plano, TX, Ascot, Berkshire, UK, Andhra Pradesh, India, Midrand, South Africa, Kyunggi-Do, South Korea; closed operations in Hyderabad, India, and not successful office in Paris, France.

The company was founded 1995 in Eden Prairie, MN as Xiotech by Phil Soran, Larry Aszmann and John Guider, offering a ‘storage hub’ for SMBs and had a long and complicated history with Seagate. So complicated that we hope to be perfectly accurate.

Seagate bought Xiotech in November 1999 in a deal worth $360 million. In 2003, it sold the company to an investment firm, Oak Investment Partners, getting a 80% ownership of Xiotech. The HDD manufacturer wanted to diversify into storage subsystem business, but was not really successful trying to compete with storage giants and its own OEMs, especially worrying EMC. Then its executives, including Soran, left and started competitor Compellent later sold to Dell.

Then the company was struggling with its Magnitude arrays in front of fierce competition and tried to diversify, acquiring in 2006 Daticon, in document management and eDiscovery solutions, for $16 million, but it was a nightmare and the business sold off.

Then the firm came back in storage in 2007 following an agreement to license Seagate technology ASA (Advanced Storage Architecture) based on ‘HDD bricks’ supposed to virtually eliminate service and failures of storage systems. It was followed by the announcement of the innovative Emprise 5000 and 7000 and then patented Intelligent Storage Element (ISE), allowing to offer five-year hardware warranty on its arrays. Just one month after that, the former Seagate Technology’s subsidiary raised $40 million in capital from a group of investors led by Steve Luczo, Seagate CEO, president and chairman, becoming director of the board of Xiotech.

In 2009 arrived once more a new CEO, known storage veteran Alan Atkinson – now GM of Dell storage -, who came to Xiotech from EMC where he was VP of the storage software group. The same year there was additional funding and a changed marketing effort. Two years later, the company rebranded as X-IO and moved HQs from Eden Prairie, MN to Colorado Springs, CO, discontinued the Xiotech line of SAN controllers, and focused exclusively on development and sales of the ISE product line with the launch of the ISE-2 and hybrid ISE products.

Financial funding
X-IO VP WW marketing Gavin McLaughlin told us more recently that his company raised $150 million in financial funding. But we found only $87.5 million including $40 million in 2007 and $10 million in 2009 in new equity financing. Current shareholders are VCs including mainly Oak Investment Partners and a small percentage from Luczo.

  • Main executives
    x-io,owenBrian Owen, 58, president and CEO since May 2014, replacing John Beletic becoming chairman, was formerly general partner with Masthead Venture Partners where he oversaw early-stage investments in emerging technology-based companies. He was CEO of MapInfo where he oversaw an IPO that was 24 times oversubscribed, while his planned IPO at decalog NV triggered a sale to SunGuard. He has also held senior executive positions within CA and Oracle.
  • David Gustavsson, COO, was promoted from VP engineering. He has been a part of the ISE development group since 2003, coming to the company through the Advanced Storage Architecture group acquired from Seagate. Prior to that, he worked for four years at Seagate in engineering managerial roles, leading efforts to stabilize code, develop and deliver firmware and design the ISE unit after being an engineer and project lead for EMC and Autodiagnos AB in Sweden.
  • Richie Lary, CTO, joined the company in 2009. He began his career as a software engineer at DEC, building OS and compilers for the PDP-8 and PDP-11 computers. In 1975, he served as a member of the core team that defined the VAX architecture, and later the implementation team for the first VAX computer. After joining DEC’s storage business unit in 1978, he was an architect of the Digital Storage Architecture and a key implementer of several of the hardware and firmware components of the associated product family. He became DEC’s storage architect in 1990, storage technical director in 1994, and Compaq‘s storage technical director in 1998, where he was responsible for technical oversight of the entire corporate storage architecture and product line. He holds 32 patents in processor and storage system architecture.
  • Gavin McLaughlin, VP WW marketing, joined X-IO in 2011 after working at EMC for 7 years, HP and Sun. The English citizen is located in UK and said to be “based in British Airways.”
  • Ron George, VP global services, came to X-IO after 27 years at HP in the global services and consulting organizations.
  • Rick Nelson, VP international, arrived in late 2011 where he rejoins Beletic, his former CEO at WebLink wireless.

On the board since 2014, we note the name of Bill Miller, founder and managing partner, Miller Investment Management, who co-founded one of the first SSP, StorageNetworks, in 1997, that raised $205 million in financial funding. This company grew to $125 million in revenues in 2000 and completed an IPO in 2000 raising $260 million, reaching a peak market cap of $16 billion, before closing and considered as the biggest clash for a start-up in the history of the storage industry.

Revenues and profitability
No figures revealed but McLaughlin said X-IO “is recently profitable and revenue increased 25% in last couple of years,” with 70% of sales in Norh America, 15% in EMEA ad 15% in AsiaPac.

Number of employees

Disk array Products

  • 100 series G3: for archiving
  • 200 series G3: with HDDs up to 38.4TB and 13,500 IO/s
  • 700 series: with HDDs and SSDs up to 28.8TB and up to 300,000 IO/s
  • ISE Station X: combines ISE 200 and 700 units into large-scale storage arrays
  • 800 series: with SSDs

At the end of last year McLaughlin already predicted a coming SSD array as he said: “During 2015, another trend is the further reduction in cost of flash storage but with the ability to last in excess of 5 years when used appropriately. This will bring around the possibility to have an all flash array that can be truly zero touch for long periods and gives a sensible price/performance ratio.”

Released date

  • Last January 27 for ISE G3
  • Next March 10 for all flash arrays for OLTP with leading price/performance supposed to beat all competitors

37 cents per I/O could to be the price of the coming SSD array.

Better price/performance, adding de-dupe and compression, smaller form-factor for systems, improving density with smaller disks, hyper-converged platform

Technology partners
Seagate for HDDs and SanDisk for SSDs, Unisys for maintenance support

X-IO is more and more channel oriented. For example 70% of revenue now come from the distribution in USA, 30% being direct. Biggest distributors are Mirazon and MTechnologies, Computacenter in Europe. Juniper Networks is the only OEM.

Number of customers
1,200 for 7,000 units installed

Main customers
Macquarie (Australia), Kingfisher Retail (UK)

There are hundreds of disk array makers in the world and already 48 in all-SSD subsystems only.


After 20 years, is there any chance for X-IO to finally emerge as a big storage company? All could depend on the forthcoming announcement of flash arrays supposed to be more reliable than the competition. But will it be possible to offer more than the 7-year warranty currently offered by IBM on FlashSystems?