Top enterprise data storage acquisitions of 2009

EMC spent $2.1 billion on data deduplication market leader Data Domain, but other companies weren't so successful with their acquisition plans in the storage industry in 2009.

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Picking the biggest enterprise data storage acquisition of 2009 is a no-brainer. EMC Corp.'s $2.1 billion buy of Data Domain held the storage industry's rapt attention for six weeks while EMC outbid NetApp and created waves in the backup market. It also was the only major data storage acquisition completed in 2009.

Besides the Data Domain deal, 2009 storage M&A was more notable for the deals that didn't come off. Host bus adapter (HBA) vendor Emulex Corp. fought off a $912 million hostile takeover attemptfrom networking chip vendor Broadcom Corp. After losing Data Domain, NetApp was considered a prime candidate to buy or be bought. Neither happened. Seven weeks after Brocade reportedly put itself up for sale, CEO Mike Klayko declared the company was not on the block. By then, its most likely suitor, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., bought Ethernet switch vendor 3Com instead of SAN-LAN switch vendor Brocade.

When Dell Inc. said it was shopping, a lot of people anticipated it would try to repeat its EqualLogic deal and buy another storage company. It bought EDS instead.

It's been nearly seven months since Oracle Corp. agreed to pay $5.6 billion for Sun Microsystems Inc. That deal has yet to close because of regulatory issues and won't happen before 2010. Frequent storage shoppers IBM and Symantec Corp. didn't make any data storage buys in 2009, and EMC had an unusually quiet M&A year except for Data Doman.

Here's a look at the top enterprise data storage acquisitions of 2009:

1. EMC pays $2.1 billion for Data Domain. This story began May 20 when NetApp surprisingly said it reached agreement to acquire Data Domain for $1.5 billion in cash and stock. Eleven days later, EMC made an offer of $1.8 billion directly to Data Domain's shareholders. NetApp made one counter offer – again accepted by Data Domain's directors – before EMC came up with its winning bid that Data Domain shareholders accepted July 8.

EMC's acquisition has repercussions in the data backup space. EMC dumped its data deduplication OEM partner Quantum Corp., prompting Quantum to seek other partners and alter its disk backup strategy. EMC also has a one-two dedupe punch with Data Domain for backup targets and Avamar software for host-based dedupe.

Losing Data Domain leaves NetApp with the hole in its backup portfolio still unfilled. And the heightened interest in data deduplication puts other companies in play as prime acquisition candidates for 2010 – including CommVault Systems Inc., FalconStor Software Inc., ExaGrid Systems Inc. and Permabit Technology Corp. You can also expect large backup vendors Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Symantec Corp. to continue to strengthen their dedupe portfolios.

Related articles:

* EMC acquires Data Domain for $2.1 billion after NetApp drops bid
* NetApp acquires Data Domain for $1.5 billion
* EMC wants to buy Data Domain to dominate data deduplication market
* Even without Data Domain, NetApp has backup dedupe options

2. Oracle tries to buy Sun for $5.6 billion. Although this isn't primarily a storage deal, several of the myriad unanswered questions involve data storage. Does Oracle really want to sell tape libraries and disk arrays? Will it sell off those pieces? What happens to Sun's open storage initiative? And where does this leave the Oracle CEO's pet storage project, Pillar Data Systems? We'll likely learn the answers to those questions eventually, but first Oracle needs permission from the European Commission to make the deal.

Related articles:

* IBM reportedly wants Sun for $6.5B
* Analysts see Oracle-Sun deal as data storage 'game changer'
* Sun claims open data storage traction; will Oracle approve?
* Sun tweaks tape platform while waiting for Oracle to take over

3. LSI buys ONStor, acquires NAS. OEM storage-area network (SAN) vendor LSI Corp. bought network-attached storage (NAS) vendor ONStor Inc. for $25 million with the intention of developing multiprotocol storage systems that handle file and block data. Although LSI is selling ONStor's clustered NAS gateways, the main purpose of the acquisition was to add NAS capabilities to the SAN storage systems LSI manufacturers for OEM partners, including IBM, Sun, Teradata Corp. and other vendors. The LSI-ONStor deal was the second clustered NAS acquisition in July, following HP's purchase of Ibrix.

Related articles:

* LSI dives into multiprotocol storage with ONStor acquisition
* LSI buys ONStor, enters NAS business

4. HP buys Ibrix, clusters its clustered NAS. HP, which bought clustered NAS vendor PolyServe in 2007, added to its collection by grabbing Ibrix for an undisclosed price last July. HP launched a NAS platform based on Ibrix software in November, the StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage System, and insists there is still a market for NAS based on PolyServe software.

Related articles:

* HP buys Ibrix for scale-out NAS; takes another step into clustered storage
* HP adds Ibrix-based NAS

5. EMC consumes eDiscovery partner Kazeon. EMC's other storage deal of 2009 was a small one – it bought Kazeon for an undisclosed price to try and boost its SourceOne compliance and eDiscovery platform. EMC used a combination of partners Clearwell Systems, Kazeon and StoredIQ Inc. when it launched SourceOne last April, but is now integrating Kazeon more deeply while phasing out the others after the September acquisition.

Related articles:

* EMC lays out data archiving and eDiscovery plans

6. QLogic grabs NetXen. While its HBA rival Emulex was fighting off Broadcom, QLogic Corp. moved to grab 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) chip startup NetXen Inc. for $21 million to bolster its consolidation portfolio in May. QLogic is adding NetXen 10 GigE silicon to its iSCSI, Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) capabilities for its next generation of converged network adapters (CNAs).

Related articles:

* QLogic buys NetXen for 10 Gigabit Ethernet silicon

7. Rackable buys SGI, then becomes SGI. Rackable Systems Inc. acquired Silicon Graphics Inc.'s assets for $42.5 million in April, then adopted the better-known SGI moniker. It's still not clear how much of the old SGI's storage IP will end up in the products that the former Rackable brings to market, but it's still selling the SGI InfiniteStorage NAS and RAID platforms.

Related articles:

* Rackable snaps up SGI in fire sale
* SGI releases first post-acquisition product

8. BakBone buys CDP partner Asempra. BakBone Software Inc. acquired Asempra Technologies Inc. for less than $2 million to retain Asempra's continuous data protection (CDP) technology. Before the acquisition, BakBone already sold Asempra's Business Continuity Server (BCS) branded as BakBone NetVault: Real-Time Data Protector. After the acquisition it brought out software-only versions of the appliance, which restores data on Exchange, SQL Server or Windows file systems after a server problem.

Related articles:

* BakBone acquires continuous data protection partner Asempra
* BakBone repackages Asempra

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