So I've been thinking about the HPC industry lately and talking to a couple of colleagues and customers, and pondering the companies that helped it get to its current state of massive supercomputing clusters, with systems capable of generating hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, continuously pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery. And as I thought about HPC, I naturally thought about Mellanox.
Mellanox was once a company with a laser-sharp focus on the HPC market. Innovation in InfiniBand switches and ASICs helped them accelerate to the top of the HPC food chain. Not only did they have great products, but the company managed to execute well and mount strong share gains. Now, however, it appears that after much success in the HPC market, Mellanox' focus seems to be shifting away from this area, perhaps leaving many customers wondering about its long-term commitment to supporting the high performance environments they helped build out for such a long time.
For one, customers are confused by Mellanox's move into the home entertainment market with its rumored acquisition of Coppergate, which produces set top boxes and DVRs. Mellanox making DVRs? I am not sure this makes a whole lot of sense, but I suppose there must be some rationale behind it. Perhaps Mellanox plans to be the next Magnavox?
And then of course there is Voltaire, named after a French writer with what might be considered today a bad haircut. Voltaire now relies on Mellanox for their underlying HPC ASIC technology and then lashes it together in a chassis and competes with Mellanox for the very same customers. How they managed to go public with this business model is a bit of a mystery to me. Combine that with what appears to be a declining financial position and it's no wonder some are wary of doing more business with them. An industry colleague recently said, "So in other words, Voltaire's future relies on Mellanox' desire to remain in the HPC space." No, not in other words, those are the words.
So bottom line, you just may start to see Mellanox more in your home than your data center and Voltaire positioning remains some what of a mystery. I have been watching two companies who seem to continue to provide focus and products for HPC and they are IBM and Qlogic - they seem to be continually innovating in and acquiring new customers in the IB space.Tom Trainer is founder and president of analyst firm Analytico. Prior to founding Analytico, Trainer was Principal Storage Product Marketing Manager at Red Hat, and Director of Marketing at Gluster prior to its acquisition by Red Hat. Tom has worked as managing senior partner ... View Full Bio