EMC acquires Rainfinity for file migration

EMC has acquired network file migration startup Rainfinity to move files between heterogeneous NAS systems and to improve the scalability of its Celerra NAS box.

On a roll scraping up cash-strapped startups, EMC Corp. announced today the acquisition of network file migration company Rainfinity Inc. in an all-cash deal for under $100 million. The details of the transaction were not disclosed.

EMC confirmed earlier this week that it had acquired the intellectual property assets of Maranti Networks Inc., an intelligent switch company also on its last legs with regard to funding.

Rainfinity provides NAS and file server "virtualization to EMC and non-EMC NAS environments," said Howard Elias, executive vice president of corporate marketing at EMC. Rainfinity will be run as a separate business unit reporting to Elias.

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"We don't necessarily want to push it into one area: The technology is also applicable to Centera; we want to make sure it reaches its maximum growth potential," said Mark Greenlaw, director of NAS marketing at EMC.

That said, EMC has been reselling Rainfinity's RainStorage product under its Select Program for NAS environments and will pull some of the technology out of RainStorage and into its Celerra NAS system.

"They have some monitoring technology that we can use to enhance Celerra, but we believe that virtualization belongs in the network and will stay in the network," Greenlaw said. EMC's block-based virtualization product, Invista, is also a network-based device.

Improve Celerra scalability

EMC's latest NAS offering, launched in April, uses clustering, but only to a point. The Celerra NSX gateway is designed to front EMC Clariion and Symmetrix disk arrays, and comprises up to eight so-called X-Blades: Intel servers clustered together in an N+1 configuration that together can serve up 112 terabytes (TB) of disk capacity (one of the X-Blades is used for failover). However, that capacity is divided between the X-Blades -- a single X-Blade can manage only a 16 TB file space.

"Rainfinity will help us break out of the single X-Blade," Greenlaw said. It brings EMC true clustered NAS and namespace management. It doesn't offer a global namespace, however, so NAS boxes across multiple geographies could not share the same file system. "It's something we are looking into. The challenge is to work within the standards," he said.

Migrating NetApp users

Brad O'Neill, senior analyst with the Taneja Group, noted that Rainfinity's 50 or so users are mainly Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) customers, with a handful of EMC users thrown in for good measure. "EMC probably has its sights set on moving them over to Celerra," he said.

John Williams, formerly vice president of worldwide sales at NetApp, joined Rainfinity in November 2002. Sources said he drove Rainfinity into NetApp accounts by maintaining the close relationships he already had with NetApp's customers.

Meanwhile, NetApp has an OEM relationship with global namespace provider NuView Inc. and rumors abound that a deal is underway between the two companies.

The remaining players in the file virtualization space are Acopia Networks Inc. and NeoPath Networks Inc. O'Neill said he thinks these companies are most likely to be acquired by the switch players.

Rainfinity firewall products

Rainfinity was founded in 1999 and its first product was a scalable firewall called RainWall, which it still sells today. RainWall software allows continuous data flow through multiple firewalls and VPN gateways to ensure that data continuously flows through these security devices in the event of failure, system maintenance and upgrades.

This product will likely be moved into EMC's newly formed security group under Dennis Hoffman.

Rainfinity raised approximately $60 million in funding. Its 60 employees will remain in San Jose, Calif.

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