ADIC in De-Dupe Deal

Pays $63M for disk-backup compression technology to further diversify from tape

March 16, 2006

3 Min Read
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Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) has accelerated its move away from its core tape business by acquiring Australian startup Rocksoft. (See ADIC Buys Rocksoft.)

The $63 million that ADIC paid for Rocksoft in a deal announced Tuesday night gives it de-duplication technology, which has been showing up in disk-backup products over the last several years. De-duping is a way to reduce the footprint and bandwidth required to store and transmit data. (See Data Compression: The Squeeze Is On!.)

ADIC corporate marketing director Steve Whitner says Rocksoft's technology will likely find its way into all of ADIC's disk products, with the Pathlight virtual tape library (VTL) "a perfect place to put this."

De-duplication -- also known as commonality factoring or single instancing -- compresses data that appears in more than one place, either before or while it's being read to disk. Diligent Technologies has used de-duplication software in its virtual tape libraries since last year, and Data Domain recently added a VTL product based on the de-duplication software it has sold on backup appliances since 2003. (See Data Domain Adds VTL Option.) Asigra and Avamar also use de-duplication in backup software.

What these de-duplication vendors have in common is a strong desire to drive a nail into the coffin of tape libraries, or at least reduce tape to an archiving medium. (See Diskers Enjoying Tape Woes.)Perhaps that's why seeing a tape vendor embrace the technology took some by surprise. "We are not sure how Rocksoft will complement ADIC's core library business," analyst Dan Renouard of Robert W. Baird & Co. wrote today in a note to clients. "Ultimately we believe the technology would make more sense in the hands of a disk storage vendor."

Then again, tape vendors are increasingly becoming disk storage vendors as well. ADIC and the other leading tape companies -- StorageTek (now Sun), Overland, and Quantum -- have been moving in that direction for years with virtual tape and other disk products.

This deal had foreshadowing. CEO Peter van Oppen declared he was looking to acquire companies during ADIC's last earnings conference call in December. He even mentioned Avamar, which features compression technology in its gear, as one of a group of companies trying to squeeze down the data.” (See ADIC's List for Santa.)

So why choose Rocksoft, which is still in the early stages of marketing its software, when more mature products are out there?

According to Whitner, Rocksoft's architecture has a lot to do with ADIC's decision. Rocksoft made its software -- called Blocklets -- available to developers in a toolkit with the goal of scoring OEM deals with storage vendors as well as WAFS and WAN optimization players. (See Rocksoft Rocks Out.)The readymade toolkit should make it easier for ADIC to integrate the de-duping technology with its disk products, and it gives ADIC the option to license the technology for markets it doesn't plan to enter, such as WAFS and WAN optimization. Rocksoft's software engine can also handle encryption and data integrity checking.

"There are lots of different approaches to doing something like this," Whitner explains. "We thought this technology could work independent of operating system. And we could put it on a small or large device, it scales."

While ADIC doesn’t have a firm roadmap yet, it expects to ship Rocksoft technology in its products by the end of the year.

Whitner says he expects Rocksoft's approximately 25 employees to join ADIC, remaining in its Adelaide, Australia headquarters.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC)

  • Asigra Inc.

  • Avamar Technologies Inc.

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL)

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.

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