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StorageTek throws lifeline to Storability

StorageTek has acquired SRM partner Storability, which was struggling to catch up with other players in this sector, according to analysts.

Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) has scooped up storage resource management (SRM) company Storability Software Inc. to further its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The key behind any tiered storage or ILM strategy, according to Curtis Preston, vice president of service development at Glasshouse Technologies Inc., is to find out what data you have and where it is. "That's SRM -- you can't move data around until you have classified it first."

StorageTek, a reseller of Storability since 2002, estimates that 75% of Storability's 40 customers were obtained through its relationship with StorageTek. In July 2002, StorageTek acquired Storability's Storage Operations Center and launched its Remote Managed Storage service offering.

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According to Arun Taneja, founder and analyst of the Taneja Group, Storability had been on the block for a while. "Who better to absorb them than StorageTek that had already put a lot of eggs in the Storability basket," he said.

Todd Rief, director of corporate strategies at StorageTek, said many of its users have a tiered storage environment and have been requesting more software to manage it. The acquisition comes on the heels of Storability announcing Version 4 of its Global Storage Manager (GSM) software, which provides a centralized view of online and nearline storage, network fabric and switches, databases, and backup applications. Storability insisted that GSM does include a provisioning wizard that provides policy-based automation of storage resources, but analysts agree it is way behind the sophistication of other products on the market.

"Storability wasn't getting the business it had expected, it was a year behind competitively and would have to pull up its development cycles by a year to catch CreekPath Systems and AppIQ Inc," said Nancy Hurley, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. GSM was positioned as a business reporting tool, which is useful, she said, but it lacks the automated data movement and migration capabilities fundamental to ILM. "StorageTek got it really cheap and they will have to partner with other vendors for provisioning and network management," Hurley said.

The acquisition reflects a continued trend of storage companies buying small software developers in the fastest growing storage software segments. Veritas Software Inc, recently acquired e-mail archiver KVS. Wall Street analysts said they believe that EMC may follow suit and acquire CreekPath. "With its suite of five SRM modules, CreekPath is a leading private company in SRM…It is headed by Dennis Grant, former CEO of HighGround Systems, a high-profile SRM company, before being acquired by Sun Microsystems a few years ago," said Shebly Seyrafi, in a note to investors.

It's also worth noting that StorageTek is extremely new to the software game. According to International Data Corp.'s latest numbers, StorageTek hovers at around 2.4% of the SRM marketplace, versus EMC's 56.2% share. The deal will add 70 employees to StorageTek's headcount estimated at over 7,000.

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