HP Snaps up IBRIX

Just when I thought the spring M&A frenzy was shaking out with EMC winning the Data Domain bidding war and Emulex fighting off Broadcom's advances HP announced this morning that they're buying cluster file server and scale-out NAS vendor IBRIX for an undisclosed sum. HP now has multiple scale-out solutions since they bought Windows scale-out specialist Polyserve in 2007.

Howard Marks

July 18, 2009

2 Min Read
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Just when I thought the spring M&A frenzy was shakingout with EMC winning the Data Domain bidding war and Emulex fighting offBroadcom's advances HP announced this morning that they're buying cluster filesystem and scale-out NAS vendor IBRIX for an undisclosed sum.  HP now has multiple scale-out solutions sincethey bought Windows scale-out specialist Polyserve in 2007.

IBRIX has had good traction in the entertainment, highperformance computing and oil and gas industries which frequently have hugesets of unstructured data and very high performance requirements selling to 175customers in these demanding markets. These industries, along with research oriented life sciences organizations,tend to be more adventurous willing to integrate a software solution like IBRIXFusion with hardware from a IBRIX partner like HP or Dell.

In the entertainment industry Disney and Dreamworks haveused IBRIX for special effects and CGI heavy files including Monsters vs.Aliens.IBRIX solutions scale to 100s of petabytes and over 1TB/sthroughput across hundreds of nodes with local or SAN storage. Unlike someclustered file systems Fusion doesn't use dedicated metadata nodes insteaddistributing metadata across the cluster to avoid bottlenecks.

IBRIX has in these markets been competing with Isilon,Panassas, Exanet and NetApp's ONTAP GX all of whom produce integratedhardware/software solutions.  Asscale-out NAS goes mainstream it has to attract less adventurous customers inindustries like financial services who would prefer to have the metaphorical "onethroat to choke" in an integrated solution.

While the purchase price hasn't been disclosed; IBRIX raisedabout $50 million in its 9 year life and was on the cusp of profitabilitybefore the credit crunch settled in so we can assume HP made the variousvulture capitalists a few dollars and is forking over something north of $70million.

In the conference call HP indicated that IBRIX would join HP'sUnified storage group which is part of the StorageWorks operation.  When asked what this means for Polyserve theywere as expected non-committal but indicated that Polyserve was selling wellfor SQL Server and other structured data applications.  I expect they'll keep it around for theWindows centric customers as well.

The big question is will HP keep selling IBRIX Fusion as asoftware product or like Lefthand's SANIQ will it become an option for HPservers leaving the propeller heads that built arrays of SuperMicro or Dellservers running Fusion searching for a new solution?So does scale out trump scale up in the NAS market? Will weall be running clusters of devices or is there a future for the BlueArcs andhigh end NetApps?

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

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