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BlueArc files for IPO, again

Following a year of large storage acquisitions, it looks like 2011 might be more IPO-friendly for storage vendors.

Two weeks after solid-state storage vendor Fusion-io went public, clustered NAS provider BlueArc Friday registered with the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a public offering. Nexsan already has an IPO filing on the books and SAN vendor Xiotech’s CEO Alan Atkinson said he is looking to follow Fusion-io’s lead and go public.

BlueArc has gone this far before. It filed for an IPO in 2007 but never followed through because of poor market conditions.

BlueArc, which benefits from an OEM deal with Hitachi Data Systems, has never had a profitable quarter and has lost a total of $230.3 million since it began shipping its storage systems in 2001. Its annual revenue was $74.2 million in 2008, $65.9 million in 2009 and $85.6 million last year, and it lost $19.6 million, $15.8 million and $9.4 million over those years.

In the three months that ended April 30, 2011, BlueArc had revenue of $24.7 million and lost $4.3 million.

The BlueArc filing said the vendor has more than 750 customers with more than 2,000 of its systems deployed.

SAN vendor HDS sells BlueArc’s SiliconFS file system with its storage arrays to give HDS platforms NAS capability. HDS accounted for 41% of BlueArc revenues last year and 45% of its revenues for the quarter ending April 30. BlueArc’s filing said its contract with HDS must be renewed every year. However, Judging from public statements HDS has made, it is happy with the BlueArc relationship.

BlueArc’s filing said it hoped to raise up to $100 million in the IPO. That’s small change compared to some of the storage transactions over the past 12 months. EMC acquired BlueArc competitor Isilon for $2.25 billion last year. Also over the past year, Hewlett-Packard bought 3PAR for $2.35 billion, Dell acquired Compellent for $820 million, and NetApp picked up LSI’s Engenio storage division for $480 million.

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