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Dot Hill gives new software a hard sell

Dot Hill Systems has ambitious plans for software it will acquire from Cloverleaf Communications for $12 million.

Dot Hill executives discussed those plans during a conference call Thursday night. The short answer to what Dot Hill expects to do with Cloverleaf’s Intelligent Storage Network (iSN) is: Everything. Which is a stark difference from what Cloverleaf did with the software, which was next to nothing as far as sales go.

Dot Hill execs say iSN is capable of delivering heterogeneous storage virtualization, unified SAN/NAS storage, thin provisioning, synchronous/asynchronous replication, snapshots, CDP, automated storage tiering, and migration of data from any array to any array. Except for data deduplication, Dot Hill hails iSN as a solution for just about any data protection and management needs.

“This allows us to compete pretty well with just about anything in the industry,” Dot Hill CEO Dana Kammersgard said.

As for specific products, Kammersgard says Dot Hill will have an in-band storage management appliance, a bundled appliance with Dot Hill storage, and a data migration appliance based on iSN lite over the next six months to a year. It plans to follow with a unified storage appliance and standalone software package within one and two years, followed by fully integrated unified modular storage platforms.

Besides making Dot Hill more of a software play, Kammersgard says the acquisition will accelerate the vendor’s plans to enter the channel with appliances. Dot Hill currently sells storage arrays almost exclusively through OEM partners Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, and Sun.

Dot Hill execs say it would’ve taken three years and cost $30 million to $40 million to develop similar software in-house. Buying Cloverleaf costs $2.5 million in cash and $9.5 million in stock. They expect the deal to close within a few weeks.

Kammersgard says iSN will make Dot Hill more competitive with storage systems vendor Compellent as well as management software vendors FalconStor, DataCore and LSI’s Storeage platform.

But by Dot Hill’s accounting, Cloverleaf was sputtering along with 25 customers and $1 million in revenue in 2009. If iSN is so good, why was it largely ignored in the market? Kammersgard says Cloverleaf devised the software for large enterprises and specialized customers such as the military defense industry, and that narrowed its market. He says Dot Hill will “scale the software down” to make it a better fit for mainstream storage users.

So now we know what Dot Hill will be up to over the coming months: its developers will scale down its new software while marketers scale up expectations.

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