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From Zero to a Billion in 588 Days – XtremIO Enters the Enterprise Computing Record Books

EMC Corporation has made history once again. In just over six quarters—actually 588 days—the XtremIO product line achieved $1B in aggregate bookings. This is certainly a record for EMC, and very likely, XtremIO could be the fastest-growing enterprise IT product ever. (We will complete the research to prove this out once we catch our breath. Things have been quite busy lately!)

This monumental achievement can only happen when the right product and the right sales and marketing machine come together at the right time. It’s the story of perfect alignment. EMC saw the future in flash storage, and placed its big bet on all-flash arrays when it acquired XtremIO in 2012.

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XtremIO 4.0 – The Beauty within ‘The Beast’

A couple of weeks ago at EMC World we announced XtremIO 4.0, a new operating system release with over 50 new features. Part of XtremIO 4.0 are new configurations that significantly step up the already amazing performance and scale of XtremIO arrays. We lovingly refer to these as “The Beast”.

'The Beast' - an XtremIO array that can deliver over 1PB of all-flash capacity and well over 1M sustained mixed workload IOPS

‘The Beast’ – an XtremIO array that can deliver over 1PB of all-flash capacity and well over 1M sustained mixed workload IOPS

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XtremIO in VMware environments – the hidden gems!

[This blog was written by Avishek Kumar, Product Manager for XtremIO]

Our customers have been using XtremIO extensively in their VMware environments since the initial days of the array’s availability. And the logic is easy to understand – virtual environments typically have a lot of random workloads and duplicate datasets; making XtremIO a perfect fit for those applications. Even if an application might be running a purely sequential workload (as rare as it is), multiple sequential workloads from multiple virtual machines will eventually translate into a highly random access pattern for the storage array. This is where an all-flash array (AFA) like XtremIO with its true scale-out architecture excels by delivering consistent and predictable performance at sub-millisecond response times. VMware has used XtremIO for hosting their Hands-on lab environment at VMworld – and you can find some interesting details in a blog that we wrote about it earlier.

Being a part of the EMC Federation, we have been able to leverage some of the unique relationships that we have with VMware. In a lot of cases, we go way beyond just providing a ‘checkbox’ indicating that a specific product or feature is supported with XtremIO. It is important for the customers to go a bit beyond the feature comparison matrix, and evaluate the real benefits that they are getting with XtremIO in VMware environments. Often times, there are hidden gems that you will be pleasantly surprised to know about! I will focus on some of these integration points with VMware in this blog.

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XtremIO Makes History with a Blowout Q4

Since early January, I’ve barely been able to keep a lid on my excitement.  That was the day when I received the Q4’14 sales report from EMC finance, which confirmed that XtremIO had just made history by becoming the fastest-growing enterprise storage product ever – for the company, and likely, the industry.

Reporting the results internally to the XtremIO team was the proudest moment of my career.  We had all worked tirelessly since introducing XtremIO in November 2013 to build the deal pipeline.  And by last summer, we all shifted into a new gear most of us didn’t know we had as we could feel we were on record pace to close out the year on December 31st.

Now that we have all caught our breath, and EMC’s leadership has announced Q4 earnings for the entire company, I can spend a few minutes to recap the highlights of XtremIO’s blowout results:

  • A near $300M quarter, with doubled Q/Q bookings. Q3’14 was fantastic at approximately $150 million. Then we doubled it again in Q4!  On the earnings call last week, David Goulden, CEO of EMC Information Infrastructure, said XtremIO is “by far the fastest growing product in the history of EMC… this is because XtremIO has the right architecture…” What he didn’t mention on the call, but has said many times before, is that XtremIO’s success is also due to the brilliant execution of the best worldwide sales force in the information infrastructure business.
  • XtremIO bested the competition. By a lot.  Our internal analysts estimate the all-flash array market was approximately $645 million in Q4, and we won 45% of those bookings. We believe the next closest all-flash array product captured 15% of the market.  There are many product-related reasons for our success, which we will cover in future blog posts.
  • More than 40% of the Fortune 200 bought XtremIO.  Dozens of large customers signed with XtremIO in Q4, helping us further establish dominance in the top of the market. Our mid-market penetration isn’t too shabby either: we now have 26% of the Fortune 1000. In addition, customers are buying larger XtremIO arrays and re-ordering from us frequently. We now have over 130 customers that have spent $1 million or more on XtremIO.
  • A stellar 2015 ahead.  Back in November 2014 when we celebrated XtremIO’s one-year anniversary, we announced a $500 million annualized run rate for Q3’14.  We more than doubled that run rate in Q4’14.  This year we have XtremIO 4.0 coming which will be simply amazing.  We will continue to define the All-Flash Array market, continue to drive XtremIO’s growth, continue to make history, and continue to break records.

It’s been no small feat to achieve all of this growth. It takes an amazing product, brought to market at the right time, with the right team. I am so proud to be part of this effort, and so excited about the year to come.

I’ll report back on our market progress in a few months.

-Josh

XtremIO & AppSync – Magic for Application Owners!

[This blog was written by Avishek Kumar, Product Manager for XtremIO]

When talking to our customers these days, I find very few people who want to understand what flash technology is – most of them are already on the path to using flash-based products in some way, shape or form. There is no point in telling them that flash is faster than spinning disk drives and that their application will run faster when they move it to flash – they already know that!  It’s not about flash vs. disk – each has a place.  It’s about making the best choice for an all-flash array.

Some of the thought provoking questions that I hear customers asking is – “how do I integrate XtremIO technology in my application stack in the most effective way?” and “does XtremIO enable new use cases and deployment models for my application that I have not even thought about yet?”  Our customers don’t just want their applications to run faster; they want their storage and application architecture to leverage all the other benefits XtremIO provides.  The integration between XtremIO and AppSync is a step in that direction. And this is what I will focus on in this blog.

AppSync for XtremIO

What is AppSync?

EMC AppSync allows you to manage XtremIO snapshots from an application perspective. In other words, it allows you to schedule the snapshot management activities in an “application aware” fashion.  It comes with additional goodies like being able to take (and delete) application consistent snapshots according to a pre-defined schedule and subscribing applications to a “service plan”.  AppSync provides integration for Oracle, SQL Server and VMware when working with an XtremIO storage array, with more application stacks coming in the future.

Simplified Replica Management

Okay – but how is it going to help me and why should I care?

A very good question for you to ask J AppSync is mainly beneficial for the following three use cases.

AppSync Use CasesLet’s go one level deeper and find out the benefits of this integration with XtremIO and some real world applications.

  • Databases (Oracle and SQL Server): Databases are they #1 customer use case for XtremIO.  Among other architectural benefits of the array, things like space & metadata efficient snapshots and inline, always-on compression make XtremIO a very attractive choice for our database customers.

However, the DBAs want us to go the extra mile and make it easier for them to take application consistent snapshots without having to go through the typical headaches.  AppSync provides exactly that capability. With AppSync, you can discover the database – which means that AppSync will automatically know the LUNs on which your database is provisioned.  When you want to take an application consistent snapshot for the database (manually or through a scheduler), AppSync will:

    • Quiesce the database in the background
    • Create an application consistent snapshot on XtremIO
    • Enable the database for normal processing
    • If you want, AppSync can automatically mount the snapshots to another server for test/dev, reporting, or backups and repurpose the database.

AppSync Provisioning Management

  • Server Virtualization (VMware): The second most popular use case for XtremIO is in a virtualized environment.  Virtualized applications typically have lot of deduplication and compression friendly datasets and the applications exhibit high amounts of random I/O – ideal conditions for XtremIO. But there are some unique challenges that AppSync helps solve in such use cases. For example, let’s assume you have a VMware datastore with 50 virtual machines and you take a snapshot of that datastore through AppSync.  Now, you can do any of the following:
    • You can restore the entire datastore – wherein all the virtual machines on that datastore will be restored to their previous state. Assuming that you have taken multiple snapshots, AppSync will allow you to choose the snapshot that you want to restore the datastore to, but this is not all that you might want to do in certain situations.
    • You may not want to restore/penalize all users using the VMs on that datastore just because one specific VM needs to be restored. With AppSync, you can restore a particular virtual machine within the datastore to a previous state. That’s right – AppSync will identify all the VMs that exist on that datastore and allow you to restore a specific VM, if you wanted to.
    • You may not want to restore the entire datastore or even the entire VM – you may want to restore a particular file within a specific VM on a specific datastore. Guess what – AppSync allows you to do that too!

There are some customers who want to be able to do all storage related activities – which includes XtremIO and AppSync operations – from within the vCenter environment. You could already do that for XtremIO using the VSI plugin for XtremIO.  With the VSI plugin 6.4 release, AppSync is also supported through the VSI plugin and you can configure protection, run AppSync service plans, mount datastores, restore files – all from within vCenter!

AppSync & VSI Plugin

The Sky is the Limit!

All the use cases and examples discussed above are very powerful, but more importantly – storage operations are now becoming much simpler and intuitive for the application administrator.  We already have customers who are leveraging XtremIO snapshots for their database copies and for the first time the application owners are not worried about the performance and storage capacity needed by all the database copies. AppSync makes this story even better!  Use the AppSync free 90 day trial and give it a try.

AppSync Free Trial

The opportunities and potential use cases with AppSync are endless. Think about more enterprise applications that we can support, think about more application operations that can be supported, think about being able to handle replication through AppSync – and you get the idea!  To learn more, check out the demo below for what AppSync can do today (Thank you Itzik!) – and stay tuned for more goodies to come soon.

The Short and Exciting History of the Enterprise Flash Market

Flash is one of the hottest, fastest growing enterprise technology markets in computing history.  While it just entered the mainstream in 2014, analysts are now predicting it to be well over a $1 billion market this year with sustained growth rates in excess of 50 percent per year for the foreseeable future.

And along the way, there have been many dynamic moments — as to be expected when such a disruptive technology gets invented and every incumbent vendor grabs for market share. Should you be listening to all the buzz?  Should you be looking to deploy this new technology?  The answer is yes, but only with the clarity of hindsight.

 

In the Beginning…

Venture capitalists began investing in flash storage companies in 2007.  By 2013, over $2 billion had been invested in more than 40 of them.

Perhaps the first notable startup in the flash space was Fusion-io.  In fact, as we were working with our early alpha and beta customers we often found Fusion-io was there too.  Fusion-io grew rapidly for a couple of years and executed a high valuation IPO in 2011, pricing shares at $19.   The company raised $233 million dollars (on top of more than $100 million of early-stage venture capital) at a valuation of $1.5 billion.  At one point, the stock rose to a $4 billion valuation.

However, the good times didn’t last, as Forbes reported:

“Fusion-IO is another company that has seen the venture capitalists cash out and stock investors get creamed.  It went public in 2011 at a sky high multiple of 41 times the previous year’s sales, valuing the company at $1.48 billion. Fusion IO raised $233 million in the IPO by selling shares for $19 each and the shares jumped to as high as $39.60 in its first five months as a public company. Since then the shares have crashed. Fusion-IO’s stock has plunged by 37% in 2013 and is now trading for 25% less than its IPO price.”

From mid 2012 until 2014 its shares continued to slide and SanDisk acquired it in July 2014 for $11.25 per share, for a total valuation of $1.1 billion.

Fusion-io stock price - IPO to Sandisk acquisition

Fusion-io’s stock price from IPO until Sandisk acquired the company

 

The Flash Arrays Cometh

The next flash contender was Violin Memory.  Whereas Fusion-io built PCIe cards installed into servers, Violin Memory was a pioneer in the concept of a flash array, the hottest part of the market today.  Violin gained significant prominence in 2012.  In an interview with Silicon Angle at EMC World that year, Violin’s CEO Don Basile stated (just as EMC was completing the acquisition of XtremIO):

“One of our partners, ICI, has us in one of the booths here, showing a great VDI solution using Violin….they’re a long-time EMC distributor and need some flash to go ahead and make those VDIs run and are demonstrating Violin in the booth.”

When asked about Violin Memory going public, Basile replied, “I think the public market has shown, and hats off to the Fusion[-io] management team today in that they’ve basically been able to derive a multi-billion dollar valuation in the public market – able to access capital.  And I think that we’re being asked to do the same thing.  Our customers, our partners are saying ‘go public, raise another few hundred million dollars of capital, grow Violin even faster to go ahead to take advantage of the opportunity’.  Cisco did it in its day, Google did it in its day, Netscape did it in its day.   It seems like the right thing to do for our customers, our employees, and our shareholders.”

Violin raised $250 million in venture capital, with its last round before its 2013 IPO valuing the company at $800 million.  At one point, the company was ranked #1 in flash array sales by IDC, with revenue of $74 million, but with losses for the same period of $109 million.

While Violin reaped $162 million during its IPO, its stock dropped 22 percent the first day of trading, leaving the valuation under $600 million — less than the $2 billion valuation Violin widely publicized it would get.  The stock has continued to drop since then, recently trading at a valuation under $450 million.

Violin Memory's stock price from IPO until today

Violin Memory’s stock price from IPO until today

 

Pure Storage’s Entry

Pure Storage was founded about the same time as XtremIO, and with a similar idea to deliver a high value, data services rich, purpose-built all-flash array.  To date, Pure Storage has raised nearly $500 million of venture capital at a $3 billion post-money valuation.  Similar to Violin, Pure gained early market traction, achieving solid market share rankings back in in 2013 from both IDC and Gartner.

Pure Storage is rumored to have an IPO in 2015.  Your guess is as good as mine as to how it will play out.  As we saw with the Hortonworks’ IPO filing last month, sometimes valuations that private investors are willing to give in earlier investment rounds do not reflect what public offering underwriters like Goldman Sachs are willing to support.  Just as we never knew the real revenues and cash burn rate of Hortonworks, we won’t know much about Pure until it files its S-1.

 

The XtremIO Factor

I’ve written about how far XtremIO has come in shaping the landscape of flash arrays.  Compared to the lofty capital raises and valuations of other flash storage companies, XtremIO had a much more sober history.  EMC didn’t disclose the purchase price for XtremIO, but it was widely reported as $430 million, right about where Violin Memory’s valuation is today.

XtremIO’s acquisition almost three years ago really wasn’t about the valuation (although at the time it was big news).  While the other flash companies have fallen to more reasonable levels, it turns out that the steadiest player, in terms of product innovation, company growth and customer service, is XtremIO.  We were acquired at the perfect time, at a non-disruptive price and plugged into the greatest storage company in the world — by an integration team that knew what it was doing.  It took some time to prove out that this was the best way to go, but now we have.  The benefit to our customers and prospects is the best of all worlds:  we never skipped a beat, we have outperformed all other flash storage companies and our plan is to continue our leadership path.

The magic of XtremIO is in the core technology and what we enable customers to do in their data centers, not in the valuation hype.  We’re as interested as ever to see if the latest flash startups can achieve and maintain their lofty valuations.   It’s a fun spectator sport, but that’s not what sets a company apart and it’s not anything you should pay attention to as a technology buyer.  You’re investing in your data center, not in the stock market.

XtremIO Just Got Better for Microsoft Environments

For quite some time now, XtremIO has been integrated tightly with vSphere, allowing the array to be configured and managed directly within vSphere.  As part of our ongoing efforts to integrate XtremIO tightly into application environments, we have just released support for similar integration in Microsoft environments.  The ESI (EMC System Integrator) 3.6 release, makes running XtremIO in Microsoft-based data centers easier and more flexible.

As usual our amazing Systems Engineer, Itzik Reich has provided a great write-up on these new capabilities.   And you can link to download ESI from the announcement page at the EMC Community site here.

Itzik also recorded a demo of ESI in action:

IDC Gives XtremIO an Awesome Birthday Present!

A few weeks ago we celebrated the one-year birthday of XtremIO.  365 days since the product was declared generally available.  A few days ago, IDC published its all-flash array market share numbers for the first half of 2014“Worldwide All-Flash and Hybrid Flash Array Market: 1H2014 Vendor Shares and Market Outlook,” (doc #252304, November 2014).  XtremIO was ranked #1 in all-flash array vendor revenue in 1H2014. IDC 1H'14 All-Flash Array Market Share The amazing thing is not this achievement.  It’s that XtremIO is accelerating at an unprecedented rate.  EMC already stated in its Q3 earnings call that XtremIO exceeded a $500M run rate in Q3.  This makes XtremIO the fastest growing EMC product ever and we believe that EMC and XtremIO will have an even wider market share lead when full year 2014 market share numbers are reported. IDC’s data validates unequivocally that we reached the #1 market share position in the all-flash array market after shipping product for only 7.5 months, against competitors who have been shipping product for many years. This IDC all-flash array market share report is an achievement — proof of execution.  The flash array market is hotly contested because the potential growth is so huge and technology inflections create opportunity for every vendor to gain market share.  In this market XtremIO is your safe harbor – chock full of innovative technology, the #1 all-flash array in 1H’14, and all delivered with the rock solid stability and support of the leading storage provider in the world.  It isn’t often that you can purchase the best technology in a disruptive market from the existing #1 vendor.  But with XtremIO and EMC you can.  Your job is safe with us. To learn more about what sets XtremIO apart, please visit xtremio.com or read this blog.

EMC Storage Analytics (ESA) 3.0 – Now With XtremIO Support

For the last two years, XtremIO has powered the Vmware Hands-On-Labs at Vmworld.  One of the very cool things featured in the Hands-On-Labs operations center was the vCOPS (vCenter Operations) dashboard – a graphical display/heat-map that shows at a glance how the data center is running – including your XtremIO all-flash arrays (the lower left corner of the image below).

vCOPS

 

Well, now through the EMC Storage Analytics package for XtremIO you can create these same custom dashboards in your data center.  Our awesome Systems Engineer, Itzik Reich, wrote a blog about this, which gives all the details.  You can also watch the demonstration he recorded below.

Happy Birthday XtremIO!

Today is a big day for XtremIO.  It marks one full year since we began general availability shipments.  Saying we’ve accomplished a lot in that year would be quite the understatement.  XtremIO’s first year was record breaking to say the least.  We’ll explore that in a moment, but I’d like to begin with an anecdote.

People often ask me how I became involved with XtremIO.  I’ll spare the details of the entire story, but the part that matters is that I spent several days in Israel with XtremIO’s founders and key engineers grilling them about the product and its architecture before I accepted the job.  During that visit, it became clear to me that XtremIO was like a secret weapon.  I knew that whoever controlled this technology would have a significant advantage and that it would forever change how IT delivers value and ultimately how businesses run.  EMC subsequently realized the same thing and acquired XtremIO in 2012.

XtremIO wasn’t the first all-flash array in the market.  In fact, others had a head start ranging from 18 months to over a decade.  If you only think about XtremIO categorically, you might think it is just a late entrant and decide our success is due to EMC’s size and scale.  But if you have experienced XtremIO first-hand, then you know that the array brings far more to the table than amazing levels of consistent and predictable low-latency performance.  You know that XtremIO is changing the dynamics of the virtual data center, dramatically simplifying and improving the way complex application environments are provisioned, and allowing workload consolidation on an unprecedented scale.

In other words, XtremIO is enabling EMC customers to do things that simply have not been possible in the past, and that are not possible with other products on the market.  Customers using XtremIO are leveraging secret weapon technology in their data center and many have realized that by doing so they are creating a sustainable competitive advantage in their business.  That’s powerful stuff.  And that realization has powered XtremIO to be the fastest growing product ever at EMC, and one of the fastest growing products in history.  Here are some fun facts about XtremIO achieved in only our first year on the market:

  • XtremIO powers a staggering 30% of the top 200 companies on the Fortune 500.  And nearly 20% of the entire Fortune 500 use XtremIO.  Big business recognizes the immense value XtremIO brings, but XtremIO has also been wildly successful in the mid-market, even among cost-conscious customers such as state and local government and higher education.  You don’t have to be a multi-billion dollar corporation to reap a huge ROI with XtremIO.

 Meme1

  • XtremIO is the #1 requested product in EMC’s Executive Briefing Centers.  Word is spreading fast about what customers are achieving with XtremIO and it is driving CIOs, application owners, and infrastructure teams to come and learn more.
  • In Q3’14, EMC announced that XtremIO had exceeded a $500M annualized run rate – in only its third full quarter of availability!  EMC also mentioned that XtremIO’s win rate is over 90%.  XtremIO now has over 75 million-dollar or more customers.  The growth and stickiness of the product is simply staggering.  This led Raymond James & Associates, in their October 21st, 2014 report entitled “2015 Storage Outlook” to say, “XtremIO is on track to do over $300 million in revenue after its late 2013 launch, which should position EMC at number one in 2014.”
  • Nearly a third of XtremIO business is with customers who are new to EMC.  Customers who never purchased from EMC in the past are doing so today because XtremIO’s benefits are so substantial they can’t be ignored.
  • XtremIO is deployed in 46 countries around the globe.  Fun fact:  There are 189-196 countries (believe it or not this varies by who is counting), meaning XtremIO is in about a quarter of them.
  • XtremIO’s growth trajectory is faster than any other EMC Federation product, ever.  It’s substantially faster than Isilon, Data Domain, and VMware, each of which is a billion dollar or more business that has been incredibly successful.  Finding examples of any IT product in history growing at XtremIO’s rate has proven challenging.

 XtremIO Growth

XtremIO’s revenue growth rate is exceeding other wildly successful products in EMC’s portfolio.

  • Noted industry blogger, Stephen Foskett recently wrote, “This is why it’s not shocking that XtremIO has apparently racked up twice as many sales this year than every other ‘all-flash’ array combined. You read that right: XtremIO has outsold the entire alleged all-flash array market by a wide margin.” [bold type is Stephen’s, not ours]
  • The 451 Group reported that XtremIO took the number one position on TheInfoPro’s Wave 18 Storage Technology Heat Index. The index denotes how ‘hot’ or desirable a particular technology has become. XtremIO allowed EMC to secure the title of most selected vendor for production use of all-flash arrays.  Read about it here.

That’s quite a list for a one year old.  Across the board, industry analysts are predicting that XtremIO will be the #1 all-flash array in market share when 2014 is tallied.  This position was achieved in less than a year, against products that were in the market for years before XtremIO began shipping.

Meme2

That’s only possible with real and tangible technology differentiation, such as:

  • Simplicity.  XtremIO is inherently balanced, meaning there is no up-front configuration or tuning required to achieve peak performance, nor does the array need to constantly re-balance itself to maintain performance over time.  XtremIO’s innovative content-based architecture ensures everything is balanced the moment it enters the array.
  • Linear scale-out.  XtremIO arrays start small (but incredibly fast) and scale-out to 12 N-way active controllers (currently, and this will increase in future releases), allowing the system to deliver unprecedented levels of performance.  XtremIO customers no longer worry about the storage array being a bottleneck.  Instead, they’re re-thinking their applications and server infrastructure so that they can fully harness the power XtremIO delivers.  XtremIO’s performance levels enable workloads that were never possible before, and workload consolidation on a massive scale, vastly simplifying data center operations.
  • 100% always-on, always inline data services.  XtremIO has a rich set of data services, but more importantly they operate inline, all the time.  This leads to consistent and predictable performance as the array is always processing operations like thin provisioning, deduplication, compression, and encryption on every I/O as it is processed.  There’s never the uncertainty of batch or post-processing, and latency is rock solid.
  • Software-centric architecture.  The magic of XtremIO is in the array software, not the hardware design.  This has allowed us to rapidly roll out new features and dramatically improve performance in our software updates – all on the arrays our customers already own.
  • In-memory metadata.  This helps XtremIO arrays perform the same regardless of the workload.  It doesn’t matter if the I/O pattern is random or sequential, on a small volume or large volume, with locality of reference or none at all.  Performance remains consistent and predictable.  But best of all, metadata heavy operations like VM cloning and snapshots are processed at blazing memory speeds, allowing XtremIO arrays to power incredibly dynamic virtual data centers and create instant full-speed copies of large data sets.  What were once resource intensive brute-force operations (and remain so on other all-flash arrays) are now handled instantly and elegantly.

Other all-flash array vendors like to compare their products to spinning disk.  There’s no magic in that.  Of course flash is faster than disk.  XtremIO didn’t set out to prove that.  XtremIO had a vision of how random-access technology such as flash could be leveraged to transform data services and deliver them at full speed, all the time, in a graceful, consistent, and predictable manner.  XtremIO saw a way to make data centers more fluid, agile, and powerful.  XtremIO customers have realized this and increasingly are using XtremIO not only to solve performance problems, but also to simplify and scale their operations.  That’s what’s propelling our growth and success; its what separates XtremIO from other all-flash arrays, and it’s what drives us to keep delivering on our vision for the solid-state data center.  In short, it has vaulted XtremIO to the top of a highly competitive market in record time.

Happy Birthday XtremIO!

Visit EMC.com/XtremIO for more information on all-flash storage

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