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Xiotech snaps up intellectual property from Seagate

Xiotech absorbs Seagate's Advanced Storage Architecture group, though it's mum on plans for the technology.

Xiotech Corp. has acquired intellectual property and employees from Seagate Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Xiotech's plans for using the technology are also undisclosed for now.

According to a Xiotech press release, the company has purchased "certain assets of the [Seagate's] Advanced Storage Architecture (ASA) business and acquired a license to the associated technology." Among those assets are two executives, Ellen Lary, who was serving as a technical consultant to the technical group within Seagate, and Steve Sicola, who was general manager of the group at Seagate. The release quoted Xiotech CEO Casey Powell saying, "In time, we expect the ASA group to provide significant additional revenue to Xiotech."

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Nobody is saying how much time it will take to realize those revenues, or how the acquisition might fit into Xiotech's recent reinvention of itself as an e-discovery and compliance company following the acquisition of Daticon in 2006. Xiotech vice president of product marketing Mike Hoch said that Xiotech sees an opportunity to develop the product into both its storage and e-discovery offerings.

According to analysts who have been briefed on the product by Seagate, ASA is a modular "self-managing" disk array designed to make it easier to manage functions, such as setting up RAID groups or hot-swapping drives. The box comes with built-in spares and automatically swaps them in if there's a failure. After those spares are used, the entire unit is replaced.

For now, it's unclear if Xiotech intends to integrate the ASA product as designed by Seagate or take it apart for some part of the underlying intellectual property.

"Think of the companies like Google and Amazon that we're starting to see now with huge amounts of storage still managing at the drive level," said David Reinsel, analyst with IDC. "Now, rather than swapping drives in and out on a day-to-day basis, users would replace the entire module as it reaches the end of life, which could take years."

Xiotech's role in e-discovery has been its ability to preserve chain of custody and the integrity of sensitive data. Xiotech could bolster that differentiator if it could offer storage hardware that didn't allow for the theft of hard drives.

"They could take it in a number of directions," Reinsel said. "If you seal those drives within the array and can't swap it out, maybe that's another step toward e-discovery and government contracts."

Seagate and Xiotech have a history: Seagate acquired Xiotech in 1999 and spun it off back into a private company in late 2002.

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