Blockbuster acquisitions for storage systems vendors proved the value of data storage and generated some of the top data storage news in 2010. Other hot topics included data storage management, data reduction and cloud storage. Here's a look at the biggest storage news stories of the year:
1. Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. outbids Dell Inc. for 3PAR
This $2.35 billion deal made storage sexy, both on Wall Street and in the data center. Dell opened the bidding at $1.15 billion on Aug. 16 and HP responded with a $1.6 billion offer a week later. HP and Dell made three more bids apiece before Dell threw in the towel 17 days after its first offer. In 3PAR, HP bought itself a new flagship storage platform that will overlap the markets its midrange EVA and high-end XP families serve. HP also positions 3PAR systems as foundations for cloud data storage. Dell's losing bid for 3PAR put the Dell, EMC storage partnership at risk, prompting it to turn to Plan B (see story No. 3).
HP beats Dell, pays $2.35 billion for 3PAR
2. EMC Corp. acquires Isilon Systems Inc.
EMC finally got serious about clustered NAS when it dropped $2.15 billion on Isilon in the wake of the HP-3PAR deal. Unlike 3PAR, there was no bidding war for Isilon to drive up the price, but EMC shelled out more than $2 billion to expand its market just like it did in 2009 with Data Domain. Isilon will give EMC greater entrée into the energy exploration and life sciences markets and will form half of a "big data" tag-team duo with Atmos. The deal also caps a remarkable comeback story for Isilon, which stumbled out of the gates as a public company in 2007 with trumped up sales figures and other problems that facilitated a management shakeup.
EMC buys clustered NAS vendor Isilon for $2.25 billion
3. Dell buys Compellent Technologies Inc. (and others)
Dell's storage group capped a busy year with its $820 million December acquisition of Compellent. Although Compellent is a midrange play while 3PAR sells at the upper end of the midrange and the enterprise, both are known for storage management features such as thin provisioning and automated tiering. Compellent also picked up primary data reduction startup Ocarina Networks and the IP of clustered NAS vendor Exanet, and launched its DX Object Storage system in 2010.
Dell buys SAN array vendor Compellent, seeks data management next
4. Management software takes priority over storage
When large storage vendors made product releases this year, it was usually more about data management features than the underlying storage array. EMC's biggest storage product release this year was a massive feature upgrade for its midrange Clariion and Celerra platforms, including sub-LUN automated tiering, block compression and unified management. Hitachi Data Systems and NetApp also emphasized management capabilities when they launched new flagship storage systems in 2010. Even when IBM launched a new storage system platform – the Storwize V7000 – the emphasis was more on storage virtualization features than the hardware. 3PAR and Compellent also made software feature releases before they were acquired.
EMC ships primary data reduction, FAST for SSDs, unified management
5. Data shrinkage inches beyond backup
As expected, data deduplication accelerated its move into the mainstream for backup in 2010, and major vendors enhanced their products. EMC added global deduplication to its Data Domain devices, Quantum Corp. continued a refresh of its entire DXi disk platform, Symantec put NetBackup with deduplication on an appliance, CommVault added source dedupe to Simpana 9, and HP rebuilt and relaunched its StoreOnce dedupe software.
But there was also a flurry of action around primary data reduction, deduplication and compression. IBM acquired Storwize and Dell bought Ocarina Networks less than two weeks apart in July, and Permabit scored OEM deals with BlueArc and Xiotech for its embedded deduplication software.
Except for customers of NetApp – which has had primary dedupe since 2007 – primary data reduction adoption is still nascent, but most major vendors now have the pieces in place to make it more enticing in 2011.
EMC Data Domain unveils Global Deduplication Array
6. Vendors build roads to the cloud
At the start of 2010, people were still trying to figure out exactly what cloud storage is. By the end of the year, every storage vendor made just about every storage announcement about the cloud. Although concerns remain, enterprises are now often looking for the best way to reach the cloud.
Concerns with cloud backup solutions: Security and performance top list
7. Solid state remains wait and see
As with the cloud, solid state drive (SSD) adoption hasn't lived up to the hype in enterprise data storage, but there was plenty of news in 2010. Enterprise multi-level cell (MLC) flash became a viable option this year, NetApp became the last major vendor to add SSD to its arrays (to go with its Flash Cache option) and new offerings came from established vendors and startups. Automated tiering software that manages data across SSD and spinning disk also became more prevalent with year, with EMC FAST, IBM Easy Tier, 3PAR Adaptive Optimization and Hitachi Dynamic Tiering hitting the market.
Fusion-io delivers management software for its solid-state drives