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NetApp acquires Akorri for performance analysis

NetApp picks up storage resource management (SRM) startup Akorri, which brings performance and monitoring capabilities for virtual machines and storage; expects Akorri to complement SRM features acquired from Onaro.

NetApp Inc. made its second storage resource management (SRM) acquisition in three years Wednesday when it bought Akorri Networks Inc., which specializes in performance analysis for virtualized infrastructures.

The Akorri deal follows NetApp's 2008 acquisition of startup Onaro Inc., whose SANscreen change management software has become a key piece of NetApp's OnCommand management software. NetApp didn't disclose the price for Akorri. The deal is expected to close around May.

Akorri's BalancePoint software provides reporting and monitoring, and has a good reputation for support with virtual machines (VMs) and networks, as well as storage-area networks (SANs). Akorri added predictive analysis to BalancePoint 3.5 last August for proactive management and troubleshooting. It brings NetApp better support for heterogeneous devices and non-NetApp storage systems to help control, automate and analyze devices across the IT stack.

Akorri technology and employees will become part of the NetApp SANscreen Business Unit, which includes the SANscreen, Operations Manager and System Manager product teams. Paul Turner, general manager of the SANscreen Business Unit, said Akorri's performance analytics and performance optimization features will complement SANscreen.

"Together, the solutions should address common IT activities related to performance management, availability management, capacity management, billing, configuration, and auditing," Turner wrote in an email interview.

Turner said Akorri technology will help OnCommand provide greater visibility throughout the IT stack, including applications, servers and networks, as well as storage. "It is essential to provide tools that assist customers to find and diagnose performance problems across the infrastructure, and provide upfront guidance on deployment strategies that reduce the complexity, maximize storage utilization and limit the time spent on troubleshooting performance problems," he said.

Turner said NetApp plans to sell Akorri software as a standalone product through Akorri's channel partners after the deal closes, and soon after will make its products available through NetApp and its channel partners. He said NetApp will determine if it will keep the BalancePoint brand after the deal closes.

NetApp plans to retain Akorri employees and move them to its Waltham, Mass., office from Akorri's office in nearby Littleton. Turner said it's likely that some of Akorri's executive team will become part of the management team for the SANscreen Business Unit.

Akorri, which was founded in 2005, claims it more than doubled revenue last year.

"Akorri has strong diagnostic and analysis software, and NetApp can bring that to a larger customer base," said Gartner analyst Chris Wolf.

Wolf said Akorri's reporting and monitoring for virtual machines, as well as storage virtualization, is valuable with the current growth of virtualization throughout data centers. "An increasing number of applications being virtualized, combined with multiple layers of virtualization, adds to the complexity of troubleshooting problems," he said. "It's really the right time to be taking this type of mature software to market. Akorri has also been working on broadening its platform to go beyond storage into network analytics, which is another area of focus NetApp can benefit from."

Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, agrees that Akorri is a good fit for NetApp as customers look to increase their use of server virtualization and often struggle with application performance and visibility in virtual environments.

"The acquisition helps to fill some gaps NetApp had in its portfolio regarding performance, and provides a solid solution to help organizations mature their virtualized environment," said Laliberte. "Combined with SANscreen, this will deliver information required to drive up VM density, maintain performance, and ensure that mission-critical apps that are moving to virtualized environments maintain acceptable performance levels end to end."

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