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2010 data storage news topped by storage array M&A, cloud storage

Multibillion dollar storage array mergers and acquisitions top 2010 data storage news; data storage management, data reduction, cloud storage are hot topics

Blockbuster acquisitions for storage systems vendors proved the value of data storage and generated some of the top data storage news in 2010. Other hot topics included data storage management, data reduction and cloud storage. Here's a look at the biggest storage news stories of the year:

1. Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. outbids Dell Inc. for 3PAR
This $2.35 billion deal made storage sexy, both on Wall Street and in the data center. Dell opened the bidding at $1.15 billion on Aug. 16 and HP responded with a $1.6 billion offer a week later. HP and Dell made three more bids apiece before Dell threw in the towel 17 days after its first offer. In 3PAR, HP bought itself a new flagship storage platform that will overlap the markets its midrange EVA and high-end XP families serve. HP also positions 3PAR systems as foundations for cloud data storage. Dell's losing bid for 3PAR put the Dell, EMC storage partnership at risk, prompting it to turn to Plan B (see story No. 3).

Associated stories:
HP beats Dell, pays $2.35 billion for 3PAR

Dell acquires thin provisioning pioneer 3PAR to expand data storage product lineup

Hewlett-Packard outbids Dell with $1.6 billion offer for 3PAR

2. EMC Corp. acquires Isilon Systems Inc.
EMC finally got serious about clustered NAS when it dropped $2.15 billion on Isilon in the wake of the HP-3PAR deal. Unlike 3PAR, there was no bidding war for Isilon to drive up the price, but EMC shelled out more than $2 billion to expand its market just like it did in 2009 with Data Domain. Isilon will give EMC greater entrée into the energy exploration and life sciences markets and will form half of a "big data" tag-team duo with Atmos. The deal also caps a remarkable comeback story for Isilon, which stumbled out of the gates as a public company in 2007 with trumped up sales figures and other problems that facilitated a management shakeup.

Associated stories
EMC buys clustered NAS vendor Isilon for $2.25 billion

Is Isilon the next acquisition target?

3. Dell buys Compellent Technologies Inc. (and others)
Dell's storage group capped a busy year with its $820 million December acquisition of Compellent. Although Compellent is a midrange play while 3PAR sells at the upper end of the midrange and the enterprise, both are known for storage management features such as thin provisioning and automated tiering. Compellent also picked up primary data reduction startup Ocarina Networks and the IP of clustered NAS vendor Exanet, and launched its DX Object Storage system in 2010.

Associated stories:
Dell buys SAN array vendor Compellent, seeks data management next

Dell-Ocarina deal will alter landscape of primary storage deduplication

4. Management software takes priority over storage
When large storage vendors made product releases this year, it was usually more about data management features than the underlying storage array. EMC's biggest storage product release this year was a massive feature upgrade for its midrange Clariion and Celerra platforms, including sub-LUN automated tiering, block compression and unified management. Hitachi Data Systems and NetApp also emphasized management capabilities when they launched new flagship storage systems in 2010. Even when IBM launched a new storage system platform – the Storwize V7000 – the emphasis was more on storage virtualization features than the hardware. 3PAR and Compellent also made software feature releases before they were acquired.

Associated stories:
EMC ships primary data reduction, FAST for SSDs, unified management

Hitachi Data Systems releases Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) enterprise storage system

NetApp refreshes FAS storage arrays, adds SSD and inline compression

IBM launches Storwize v7000 storage virtualization platform

Compellent adds storage virtualization, SAS to storage arrays

5. Data shrinkage inches beyond backup
As expected, data deduplication accelerated its move into the mainstream for backup in 2010, and major vendors enhanced their products. EMC added global deduplication to its Data Domain devices, Quantum Corp. continued a refresh of its entire DXi disk platform, Symantec put NetBackup with deduplication on an appliance, CommVault added source dedupe to Simpana 9, and HP rebuilt and relaunched its StoreOnce dedupe software.

But there was also a flurry of action around primary data reduction, deduplication and compression. IBM acquired Storwize and Dell bought Ocarina Networks less than two weeks apart in July, and Permabit scored OEM deals with BlueArc and Xiotech for its embedded deduplication software.

Except for customers of NetApp – which has had primary dedupe since 2007 – primary data reduction adoption is still nascent, but most major vendors now have the pieces in place to make it more enticing in 2011.

Associated stories:
EMC Data Domain unveils Global Deduplication Array

Quantum refreshes high-end data deduplication backup system

Symantec delivers NetBackup with deduplication on appliance

CommVault Simpana 9 adds source deduplication

HP StoreOnce's first job is backup deduplication

IBM buys Storwize for primary data compression

Permabit launches Albireo primary data deduplication

Xiotech joins primary dedupe parade

BlueArc picks Permabit's primary dedupe

6. Vendors build roads to the cloud
At the start of 2010, people were still trying to figure out exactly what cloud storage is. By the end of the year, every storage vendor made just about every storage announcement about the cloud. Although concerns remain, enterprises are now often looking for the best way to reach the cloud.

Associated stories:
Concerns with cloud backup solutions: Security and performance top list

Cloud storage gateways present primary storage options

Private cloud storage set as goal for Independent Bank

Atmos Online goes offline, other cloud service providers look to step up

Hitachi Data Systems, Cleversafe, Nirvanix seed their cloud offerings

Understanding cloud storage

7. Solid state remains wait and see
As with the cloud, solid state drive (SSD) adoption hasn't lived up to the hype in enterprise data storage, but there was plenty of news in 2010. Enterprise multi-level cell (MLC) flash became a viable option this year, NetApp became the last major vendor to add SSD to its arrays (to go with its Flash Cache option) and new offerings came from established vendors and startups. Automated tiering software that manages data across SSD and spinning disk also became more prevalent with year, with EMC FAST, IBM Easy Tier, 3PAR Adaptive Optimization and Hitachi Dynamic Tiering hitting the market.

Associated stories:
Fusion-io delivers management software for its solid-state drives

STEC adds DRAM SSD for appliances; Violim Memory launches MLC device for capacity

Pliant Technology introduces MLC solid-state drives

New 6 Gbps flash SSD boosts Micron solid-state offerings

Nimbus Data Systems rolls out larger S-class solid-state storage platform, virtual switch

SSD devices flashed by startups Anobit and Virident Systems

IBM rolls out Easy Tier automated tiered storage for DS8700

LSI delivers flash-based PCIe card with 6 Gbps SAS interface

3PAR adds SSDs, sub-volume automated tiered storage to InServ arrays

FalconStor, Violin Memory combine on flash SAN accelerator

Dig Deeper on Storage vendors

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