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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.

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

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

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.