DSSD, the Valley startup acquired by EMC last year (see EMC goes all in with DSSD) is continuing to hire at an accelerating rate. Informed sources put the current DSSD team at 160 heads with plans to grow it to 800 over the next year.

This is a program in a hurry. Hiring such numbers in the very tight Silicon Valley job market today is expensive, where even new graduates command 6 figures – and need it to afford an apartment with only one roommate.

But given that VMAX needs a low latency backend to replace the uncompetitive VMAX disk infrastructure, the rush is understandable. Rotating media is no longer competitive with flash for enterprise applications and VMAX is feeling the heat.

DSSD is looking for hardware, datapath, firmware, management software and storage appliance software engineers. The jobs are in Menlo Park, a very nice and expensive place to live.

The StorageMojo take
DSSD has some very smart people behind it, including the ZFS crew and Andy Bechtolsheim. But the hiring plans suggest that integrating DSSD with VMAX is a much bigger job than originally expected.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. Besides the problem of building extremely high performance and highly reliable storage – a really hard problem even for experienced teams – lots of the disk-focused optimizations in current VMAX code will have to be surgically removed to achieve a significant VMAX speedup.

EMC will have to show customers significant performance boosts if they hope to earn higher margins on the refreshed all-flash VMAX. Excising decades of disk-oriented cruft is key and non-trivial.

Competitors touting IOPS today need to analyze EMC’s likely marketing direction with the new VMAX. Of course they’ll continue to push the “data services platform” line, but latency is the intended performance proof point.

Engineering schedules only slip one way. While EMC will tout “early access” – beta – programs late this year, don’t expect to see commercial shipments until mid-2016.

But once EMC gets it out the door, expect a full-on marketing onslaught for a flash-enhanced VMAX value proposition. With cloud providers taking significant enterprise storage capacity, EMC will be hungry for market share anywhere they can get it.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.