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Xiotech Swallows Seagate Brains

Disk specialist Seagate is getting rid of its elite R&D unit, clinching a deal to sell its mysterious Advanced Storage Architecture (ASA) group to SAN vendor Xiotech for an undisclosed fee today.

Set up just over five years ago, the highly secretive ASA division was formed to develop "next-generation architectures" for Seagate's OEM partners, which include IBM and EMC.

Scant details are available about the group, although it is believed that the 100-strong team was a 'skunk works' division within Seagate. The group includes at least a dozen ex-Compaq engineers, who were formerly the RAID controller development team at DEC. These engineers were responsible in part for developing the technology that eventually became HP's EVA.

At least one analyst thinks that Seagate is now looking to re-focus its efforts on its traditional core technologies. "Seagate's core business is making disk drives," says Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group, explaining that the ASA group's technology may also have competed directly with offerings from the vendor's OEM partners.

By selling the group to Xiotech, which was itself spun out of Seagate in November 2002, Seagate relinquishes direct development of any contentious technology. But a licensing arrangement with Xiotech ensures that Seagate will continue to benefit from ASA's work.

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