SanDisk has agreed to acquire Pliant Technology, a manufacturer of solid-state drives (SSDs), for $327 million, which signifies a significant shift to the enterprise space for the flash-memory maker. While SanDisk has been primarily known for its storage cards and flash drives sold at retail stores, the company has benefited from sales of its memory chips for smartphones, tablets and digital music players. Now SanDisk takes on a crowded, yet growing, SSD market with established companies like Intel, Seagate, Samsung (whose SSD business was acquired by Seagate) and Hitachi.
"We see this acquisition as very complimentary since we have not been in the enterprise SSD market and this is a way to jumpstart our way into that market," said Mike Wong, director of public relations for SanDisk, in an interview. "While it is true that we currently have SSD products, we don't have SSDs at the enterprise level. Adding Pliant Technology's enterprise SSD business, which will be run as a separate business unit, fills a hole in the SanDisk product line."
Pliant sells ultra-high-performance enterprise SSDs based on the SAS protocol aimed at high-performance enterprise applications. Pliant's roadmap also includes PCIe-based solutions for high-performance compute servers.
Pliant currently sells both multilevel cell (MLC) NAND and the higher-end, single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash in its enterprise SSDs. Demand for SSDs has been growing in the enterprise as organizations generate and store increasing amounts of data.
Gartner anticipates the SSD market to grow from $994 million in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2015, with about 1.3 million SSD units shipped in 2010, to an expected 9.4 million units shipped in 2015. This growth is fueled by the increasing use of SSDs, which consume less power than hard-disk drives and allow access to information quicker.