Storage acquisition frenzy

Recently, there have been a number of storage acquisitions. This is my analysis of why they matter.

NetApp is going to buy Topio for its high-end remote mirroring software. Topio software supports synchronous and asynchronous mirroring with write order fidelity and consistency groups for open systems environments. Topio has been out in the market for some time with a number of customers, and has a product with a good track record of success. In my view, NetApp bought Topio to get deeper into the data center. They can use Topio to provide customers with the abilities to perform data migrations for upgrades, create an intelligent tiered storage environment and implement homogeneous and heterogeneous remote mirroring. The Topio product is not a tinker toy but rather a sophisticated high-end product that customers with mission-critical applications can use for disaster recovery (DR). But the problem in the past has been that only certain types of customers are willing to take a chance on an emerging vendor. More customers will work with NetApp for this type of product for high-end DR. NetApp faces some major competition in the DR arena. But they now have an easy-to-use, cost-effective, high-end heterogeneous product. They now need to prove they have the core competency to play in this sandbox.

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LSI bought StoreAge for its storage virtualization, snapshot and remote replication software. This acquisition was a coup because of its low price. StoreAge has great technology and the acquisition is a feather in LSI's cap. StoreAge has hundreds of customers and its software is tried and true. LSI can use the StoreAge stuff as a software-only OEM product that can be embedded into appliances, switches, chips and controllers. They can also integrate StoreAge into their own controllers to provide high-end functionality that is quickly becoming a requisite capability for their market-leading storage system products. The acquisition of StoreAge immediately turns LSI into a best-in-class storage software company. They just have to figure out what to do with all of the StoreAge direct customers.

EMC bought Avamar for its next generation backup and recovery software. The Avamar "gold" is found in its Commonality Factoring software, which provides synthetic full backups, data deduplication and data compression. This results in a significant reduction of the amount of capacity moved over the network and needed to store backups. I am a major proponent of backing up data to disk, especially when you can optimize the capacity. All recoveries should be performed from disks. If you store backup data efficiently and economically, you can retain this data on disk for very long periods. Avamar solves performance problems at the network and device level, reduces capacity moved and stored, and enables long retention periods for backup data, just in case you need to recover it. Backup and recovery is an area of technology that needs to be reinvented, but it takes more than technology. EMC certainly has the muscle to do this very thing. We just have to see if they can pull it off. So far their track record for selling backup software is unimpressive.

EMC will focus initially on using Avamar for remote office backup. Hopefully, they will integrate the Avamar technology into NetWorker and RecoverPoint CDP [continuous data protection]. This acquisition also marks a shift in the right direction for backing up to disk. Symantec's PureDisk product competes with EMC Avamar. That leaves the other big backup players at a disadvantage, even though they may not admit it to us or themselves.

There were other acquisitions this year, including the purchase by ADIC of Rocksoft for its data deduplication software, with ADIC in turn getting bought out by Quantum. CA acquired XOsoft for its remote mirroring and CDP software. Packeteer bought Tacit for its WAFS product. Iron Mountain acquired LiveVault for its online backup and recovery services offering. And EMC bought Kashya for remote mirroring and CDP.

There is no doubt that other acquisitions will occur in the next 12 months. Overall, this is good news for the market. Success breeds success. Innovation is rewarded and therefore will foster more innovation. The big guys buy the innovators and hopefully proliferate their products into the market.

 The views and opinions expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of nor any other TechTarget affiliate.

 About the author: Tony Asaro is the senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group.


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