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HP in Deal With Riverbed, Sources Say

When Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) releases a massive storage product refresh later this month, wide-area file services (WAFS) will be part of it. And it's likely that part will come from Riverbed Technology Inc.

The OEM deal, unconfirmed and uncommented on by either company at press time, appears to be a kind of open secret. Hints of it surfaced in a financial note on Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) by analyst Thomas Curlin of RBC Capital Markets last week. Commenting on Brocade's recent investment in WAFS vendor Tacit Networks Inc. (see Brocade Invests in Tacit), Curlin had this to say: "Also of note, as WAFS has quickly emerged as a strategy technology within vendor portfolios contacts report HP already selling and close to announcing an agreement with one of the other remaining WAFS vendors to resell their technology within HP solutions."

HP has told at least one analyst that WAFS will be part of a major EVA product upgrade set for rollout May 16 (see HP Plans EVA Facelift). This source and at least one other, who asked not to be named, say Riverbed is virtually the only likely candidate.

Here's the rundown, from their viewpoint: Tacit's out, since Brocade would probably not have cut a deal with Tacit if it was likely to wind up competing against one of its strategic OEMs for the same product. HP also is unlikely to compete against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), whose $82 million acquisition of Actona late in 2004 gave it WAFS capability (see Cisco Acts on Actona). [NOTE: The Cisco situation could change; see below.]

The remaining unattached WAFS vendors include DiskSites Inc. and FineGround Networks, both of which have yet to make an industry impact. Guess who's left?

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