Storage Soup

Aug 3 2012   8:07AM GMT

Stocking the arsenal for storage battles

Randy Kerns Randy Kerns Profile: Randy Kerns

Major storage vendors constantly acquire technology through acquisitions and partnerships, and these deals often show a lot about where the industry’s technology is headed. They also show that large vendors often can’t afford to take the time to develop valuable technologies on their own.

The latest storage deal was Oracle’s acquisition of Xsigo for software-defined networking (SDN). Or maybe it is Xsigo’s IO virtualization in a different form that Oracle wants. Either way, the deal is a portent of the coming competition for customers with new technology and solutions, and a focus on what is called converged infrastructures or converged systems.

Recent acquisitions to bear this out have been Dell acquiring Quest Software and EMC acquiring XtremIO. Relationships are also key to delivering solutions and major announcements, including Dell with Rainstor, NetApp and Hortonworks, and Quantum with Amplidata.

And don’t forget the relationships between small vendors and investors — Tintri, Panzura, and Avere recently scored big funding rounds, proving that venture capitalists see value in their technologies. This is happening at a time that used to be the summer doldrums where people in the storage industry could take vacations and not have the world change while they were gone. .

There are massive technology changes underway, and few if any companies can develop or integrate everything on their own any more. Acquisitions and partnerships are the way to quickly fill the arsenal, which is necessary to remain competitive. Storage is one area where a premier vendor cannot afford to fall behind the competition.

Partnerships are being exploited more than ever before. Converged systems with servers, storage, networking, and orchestration software are being offered as solutions to customers to simplify the purchase, deployment, and operation of their environments.

Storage vendors have wisely looked at value added distributors and system integrators as the delivery vehicle with reference configurations and partner-led integrated solutions with the vendor’s storage and selections of servers, server virtualization software, and networking. NetApp Flexpods and EMC VSPEX are good examples here. Server vendors also offer complete solutions storage such as Hewlett-Packard VirtualSystems and IBM PureSystems. There is even an entire company, VCE, formed specifically to sell integrated products from EMC, VMware, and Cisco.

Large storage vendors today are showing results from strategic investments made in recent years – HP and 3PAR, Dell and Compellent/EqualLogic, IBM and XIV, EMC and Data Domain/Isilon, and many others.

The acquisition of companies probably will not slow down, at least through this year. What storage vendor doesn’t have a need for more flash technology, or perhaps a missing piece of its cloud puzzle? It may take several years to judge whether an acquisition was strategic and ultimately profitable. The crystal ball used by many may be a bit cloudy or tainted by previous experience but opportunity and successes are out there.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

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