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George Crump
George Crump
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3PAR And HP Vs. Dell: Its On!

As last year's duel between NetApp and EMC showed, there is nothing more fun than a bidding war, especially if you are the company being sought after. It also makes it so much easier to come up with blog content. As expected, Dell has countered HP's bid for 3PAR and made it clear to everyone that the quest for enterprise class storage virtualization is on, or to at least make HP spend more money.

As last year's duel between NetApp and EMC showed, there is nothing more fun than a bidding war, especially if you are the company being sought after. It also makes it so much easier to come up with blog content. As expected, Dell has countered HP's bid for 3PAR and made it clear to everyone that the quest for enterprise class storage virtualization is on, or to at least make HP spend more money.

Clearly one of the winners in this battle is going to be 3PAR, at least in the short term. How the company and the technology fairs in the long term will be in larger part up to the winning bidder. My guess, if it is Dell, 3PAR will be left more up to its own devices. If its HP there will be some sort of integration effort, which may or may not turn out to be good for the 3PAR team.

The other winner will be the current storage OEM to the loser. If Dell loses, then EMC will continue to keep a large customer. One would think, though, that the guys over in Hopkinton will be a little sore over the affair and will be looking to mutually end the relationship. If HP loses then Hitachi will be a winner and keep a fairly large customer. I also don't think Hitachi will be as hasty to end the relationship. I am not convinced that HP would have end the relationship even if they win. The still need the Hitachi box for mainframe attached and for the extreme high end of the enterprise. The real winner for HP, I suspect, will be the EVA team as I covered in my last entry.

The other question is, what will the losing vendor do afterward? First, they may do nothing. I think everyone expected NetApp to make a big move after losing Data Domain, and that really didn't happen. I think this is especially the case with HP. They already have a ton of storage products and they, I think, are going after 3PAR more to stop Dell than to acquire a new technology. Going against popular commentary, Dell does not have to do anything. They can wait for another opportunity. They are having plenty of success with EqualLogic and have enough to keep them busy with Ocarina Networks, ExaNet and others.

Assuming that another bid is in the works, though, is a lot more fun. As we discuss in our article "Instinctive Storage," the goal is to simplify storage in the enterprise, the path is storage virtualization. Who does this that may be on the block? The name I often hear is Compellent. Why they may very well be bought, I don't see them as an enterprise-play like 3PAR is. Clearly, they have storage virtualization figured out, but I'm not sure they reach the very high end of the enterprise. I also think there is far more overlap with Compellent and EqualLogic than there is with 3PAR and EqualLogic. It would also overlap with HP's storage offerings in the LeftHand, EVA category but apparently HP is already prepared to address that.

The other two names I hear a lot are Xiotech and Pillar. Both are interesting and both are nailing the storage virtualization category. They both may not extend quite as high into the enterprise as 3PAR, but they can certainly make a case to be in the conversation. Pillar is often discarded because of their close ties to Larry Ellison. The assumption being that Oracle will buy them. I would counter that Mr. Ellison is a businessman, and that Pillar is just as much on the table as anyone else. Xiotech has been through all of this so it will be interesting to see what they do, if anything.

The important thing is how everyone executes after the transactions are done. At some point, there is going to be a even larger storage player, a company potentially searching for another storage offering and customers still needing solutions to their storage challenges. Let's also remember that in some garage in Palo Alto the next great storage platform is being invented, and that will change everything.

As mentioned in our prior entry, 3PAR has been previous a client of Storage Switzerland. Pillar Data Systems, Compellent and Xiotech either are or have been clients. 

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for datacenters across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, ... View Full Bio
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