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DataCore Software buys Caringo to fill object storage gap

DataCore's acquisition of object storage pioneer Caringo plugs a hole in its software-defined storage and advances its goal of block, file and object storage from a single vendor.

DataCore Software expanded its software-defined storage portfolio with the acquisition of object storage specialist Caringo to fill the missing piece in its block- and file-based product lineup.

Caringo's flagship Swarm object store will join DataCore's SANsymphony block storage virtualization and vFilO virtualized file technology to advance the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., software vendor's DataCore One vision that spans primary, secondary, backup and archival use cases across data center, cloud and edge sites.

DataCore CEO Dave Zabrowski said the Caringo acquisition was "all about DataCore One" -- the unified architecture of block, file and object storage the company advocates to address the industry problem of storage silos. He noted that Caringo represents "the final building block."

"With more of the focus moving from infrastructure up the stack to more business outcome-oriented digital transformation, there's an increasing need to have a unified storage architecture, so we don't have to manage the silos anymore as an industry," Zabrowski said.

Dave Zabrowski, CEO, DataCore SoftwareDave Zabrowski

Zabrowski said DataCore did an analysis of whether the company should develop its own object store or try to acquire "best in breed." He said DataCore worked with Caringo for about six months to see if the merger would make sense and determined that it would.

The acquisition was the first for DataCore since its founding in 1998, although the company made a strategic investment in 2020 in container-attached storage startup MayaData. While the Caringo transaction closed on Jan. 15, DataCore waited until today to announce the deal, citing a combination of factors, including employee engagement and not wanting to issue news the week of the inauguration. Financial terms were not disclosed. Both DataCore and Caringo, which was founded in 2005, are privately held companies.

Randy Kerns, senior strategist and analyst at Evaluator Group, said it was important for DataCore to continue to grow beyond its storage virtualization roots with the addition of unstructured data storage and management.

"Caringo is a good fit," Kerns said. "They are not that large of a company and have a mature product with a very large set of capabilities."

Eric Burgener, research vice president at IDC, said customers would get a single-vendor option to manage their block, file and object storage, while DataCore gains access to an object storage market that is projected to grow in size from $13.1 billion in 2020 to $20.5 billion by 2024.

"Software-define storage revenues are not as large overall as external SAN/NAS storage," Burgener said. "But DataCore is clearly an alternative to appliances like Dell EMC PowerStore, HPE Nimble Storage and all the rest of the enterprise SAN/NAS market."

Burgener said Caringo's object store supports exabytes of capacity and stands out architecturally by running the software directly out of DRAM to deliver higher performance than most other object stores.

"With AI/ML-driven big data analytics being implemented in many enterprises due to digital transformation, having a very performant object store that meets the other enterprise requirements of availability, scalability and functionality is a good bet in 'skating to where the puck is going to be,'" Burgener said.

DataCore Software
DataCore software-defined storage product portfolio

Objective storage acquisition trend

DataCore's acquisition of Caringo was hardly the first of an object storage specialist. Last year, Nvidia bought SwiftStack to bolster its AI stack with the startup's open source-based software. Also last year, Quantum picked up Western Digital's ActiveScale, an object storage platform that WD purchased from Amplidata in 2015 -- the same year that IBM snared Cleversafe's object assets.

In 2014, Red Hat bought Inktank Storage for its open source-based Ceph software that supports block, file and object storage. NetApp's StorageGrid resulted from its 2010 acquisition of Bycast.

"We continue to see increased adoption and increased interest in object storage -- especially the protocols," said Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget. "Object storage originally was often seen as more of an archive or an active archive, often for compliance. Those use cases still exist, but with the rise of Amazon S3, more and more organizations have been writing applications to the S3 API, and more applications have been supporting it.

"Because of that, we're seeing more organizations looking for consistency in how they write their apps and where they deploy," Sinclair continued. "One of the nice things about software-defined storage is that it provides a lot of flexibility in what hardware you can use underneath it. So, as organizations become more distributed, this gives them greater flexibility of deployment."

In addition to selling software, Caringo also gave its customers the option to buy server appliances bundling Swarm on Supermicro hardware to ease deployment. But DataCore sells through channel partners that tend to have their own preferences of hardware vendors with whom they like to work, according to DataCore CMO Gerardo Dada.

"It's most likely that [the channel partners] will prefer to just buy the Swarm software itself and not buy the appliance," Dada said. "That's more likely what we're going to end up doing going forward."

The worldwide customer base that DataCore will inherit from Caringo includes organizations in the cloud, media and government sectors, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, Argonne National Laboratory, Disney Streaming Services and BT Television.

Zabrowski said DataCore would keep the majority of Caringo's 30 employees and bolster its presence in Austin, Texas, where Caringo is based and DataCore has had sales, marketing and R&D staff. He said Caringo CEO Tony Barbagallo "decided to move on and do some other things with his career" but had been "extremely helpful" and "very supportive." Barbagallo will join DataCore's technical advisory board.

"Both companies were pioneers in their respective SDS areas -- block and object -- so it's likely that there's a lot of common ground that they have covered that could result in a stronger vision for software-defined storage of the future," said Steven Hill, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

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