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IBM's acquisition of Cleversafe object storage underscores the importance storage vendors are placing on the technology as a key part of cloud and archiving strategies.
The deal announced Monday was the second object storage acquisition of 2015, and expands IBM's options for presenting the technology.
Western Digital acquired Amplidata in March as part of its HGST division. Like Cleversafe, Amplidata was among the early object storage startups to enter the market. IBM did not disclose the purchase price for Cleversafe, but a source familiar with the deal said it was in the $300 million to $400 million range. Western Digital paid $285 million for Amplidata.
IBM plans to integrate Cleversafe object storage into its IBM Cloud business, which also includes its SoftLayer infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and the SoftLayer Object Storage services platform.
"Cleversafe is a proven leader for low-cost, large-scale object storage," said Bernie Spang, IBM's vice president of software-defined infrastructure. "They have over 350 patents in object storage."
Careful execution will rule the deal
Cleversafe offers hardware and software options for its technology that can scale to store petabytes of data and billions of objects. The company's Dispersed Storage Network products target large-scale archives and unstructured data content stores. Cleversafe raised $135.4 million in funding through five investment rounds. It's considered a market leader in object storage, along with Scality, which is aiming for an initial public offering in 2017.
IBM already has a several object storage options. SoftLayer Object Storage is based on the OpenStack Object Storage API and IBM Spectrum Scale is based on the IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS) technology.
Eric Herzog, IBM's vice president of marketing in storage, said Cleversafe object storage covers a different market and use case than IBM's other object alternatives. Herzog said IBM is seeing large-scale enterprises adopt hybrid clouds, while smaller customers are leaning toward public clouds.
"Pure public cloud is used by small businesses," he said. "[But] we are seeing more large enterprises going with hybrid."
George Crump, president and founder of Storage Switzerland LLC, said IBM will have to focus on execution with this acquisition because it already has a couple of technologies in this area.
"Cleversafe is a great object storage company," he said. "IBM already has Spectrum Scale, SoftLayer and GPFS, which competes in this area. How many object storage technologies do you need? I'm thinking I don't need four."
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