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EMC buys Pi and forms a cloud computing group

EMC acquired Pi Corp., a company with Microsoft roots that was still in stealth, and has formed a new cloud computing business unit around it.

EMC Corp. announced it has acquired a startup still in stealth called Pi Corp. in an all-cash transaction for an undisclosed amount.

Pi Corp. founder and CEO Paul Maritz will join EMC as president and general manager of EMC's newly created Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division, reporting directly to EMC CEO Joe Tucci. The new division will also include the EMC Fortress SaaS infrastructure, the Mozy online backup service and "other upcoming EMC cloud infrastructure systems and software offerings under development."

Little is known about Pi's products because they haven't hit the market yet, according to Rob Enderle, industry analyst with the Enderle Group. But generally, Pi is aiming to create a service that delivers files to multiple devices, from laptops to iPhones, from a centralized repository in the cloud.

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"A lot of people have been trying to develop in this space unsuccessfully," Enderle said, pointing out that Maritz spent 14 years at Microsoft before starting Pi. At Microsoft, Maritz served on the executive committee that managed the overall company. "I think the Microsoft DNA convinced EMC that this would end up working best," Enderle said.

Enderle said the acquisition is a big move for EMC and one that sets it up for a big push into consumer storage. "I'd compare this to when Apple got into the iPod -- it's a fundamentally different focus for EMC and much more consumer-oriented," he said. "This could be how we view [consumer] storage by 2015 with most of what we have existing in the cloud someplace when we have the bandwidth to deliver even large media files wirelessly."

EMC's global marketing chief technology officer Chuck Hollis addressed the acquisition on his blog on the EMC wesite. While Hollis didn't get into specifics of Pi's services and software, he wrote that the acquisition shows EMC does not see cloud computing as business as usual.

"We're saying that success in this new space will require a very different technology base – and a business model – very unlike other parts of the traditional IT landscape," Hollis wrote.

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