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Nvidia Buys Data Storage Company SwiftStack

Nvidia have announced that they are buying object storage company SwiftStack. Though the exact terms of the deal remain unknown, Joe Arnold (SwiftStack’s co-founder and president) posted about the news on the company blog.

Relatively speaking, SwiftStack haven’t been on the scene for that long. They were founded in 2011 and managed to raise an impressive $23.6 million over their first three years. However, the company were clearly under pressure when, in December 2019, they laid off an unknown number of employees. They also moved away from commodity object storage to focus on high performance petabyte scale applications.

Though the object storage vendor marketplace is well populated, SwiftStack were considered a second-tier player alongside the likes of Cloudian, Red Hat and Western Digital. Those leading include NetApp, Dell EMC, IBM and Hitachi Vantara.

“Building AI supercomputers is exciting to the entire SwiftStack team. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work with the talented folks at Nvidia and look forward to contributing to its world-leading accelerated computing solutions,” said Joe Arnold in the blog post.

“To our existing customers—we will continue to maintain, enhance, and support 1space, ProxyFS, Swift, and the Controller. SwiftStack’s technology is already a key part of NVIDIA’s GPU-powered AI infrastructure, and this acquisition will strengthen what we do for you.”

Interestingly, there’s no comment from Don Jaworski, the CEO of the company. SwiftStack refused to say whether he was staying. As such, we can conclude he’s either leaving the company, or negotiations for his merged role are still under discussion.

Nvidia’s head of enterprise computing, Manuvir Dad, said that Nvidia is not interested in becoming a storage company or to sell storage. Instead, it is buying SwiftStack for its technology, of which it already uses in its data centres. Nvidia will use it internally and allow their customers to access it, but they will not be saying it.

Of particular interest to Nvidia is SwiftStack’s 1space technology. It helps GPUs with their caching and tiering. It’s a file connector that lets cloud-native applications get data from on-premises or in AWS. It helps ensure that the resource is always consuming data and isn’t being underutilised.

In fact, Nvidia have been a customer of SwiftStack’s for over a year, so the two firms already have an existing relationship. Other customers of SwiftStack’s include PayPal, Snapfish, Verizon, and DC Box. Nvidia will no doubt enjoy the benefits that come from furthering their relationships with these firms.

“Nvidia are going to open source everything. I’m pretty sure they paid very little, and they will use the software to build a reference architecture so that partners can build their solutions,” said GigaOm analyst Enrico Signoretti.

This isn’t a surprise move for Nvidia. For the past years, they’ve been acquiring technologies and intellectual property for data centres. Supercomputers are of a particular interest to them. One example is when they acquired Mellanox, which develops technologies that connect servers. It’s clear that the company, primarily known for graphics, are keen to expand their footing in the industry.


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