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Big Day at the Races

What a day it's been: Brocade followed a spate of 4-Gbit/s unveilings by sealing the purchase of file virtualization vendor NuView, while earlier on EMC nailed down the purchase of security software maker Authentica and proclaimed the release of a new NAS management package based on Smarts technology EMC bought in 2004. Meanwhile, backup player Atempo has made its OEM deal with CDP startup Storactive a permanent arrangement. (See Brocade Acquires NuView, Atempo Swallows Storactive, EMC Acquires Authentica, and Brocade Bulks Up 4-Gig Gear.)

A big news day, but not a surprising one: The acquisitions and add-ons signal the well known seriousness storage suppliers have about playing in an expanded market. Nobody wants to be known as only a switch or SAN maker anymore -- a purveyor of data management, perhaps, or bringer of overarching access. The bigger the vendor, the grander its self-proclaimed mission. Anything to avoid being stuck in a commodity market.

The good news? Vendors are hearing the cries of users for more and better functionality for enterprise storage. The bad news: They have to follow through.

Don't expect much action from the big fish. As long as they can offer big customers a package deal that covers all their check points, integration can take place in long, drawn-out "solutions" offerings, with plenty of hands-on service.

But firms like Atempo could prove more interesting. Like many other smaller players, Atempo has a chance to threaten big vendors' grand schemes by providing off-the-shelf combined functionality that doesn't require a specific platform -- if it can act fast enough to shoulder aside its own rivals, that is.

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