HP Buys Archive Guys

Acquires data archiving startup Persist Technologies, which HP says is part of ILM push

November 12, 2003

3 Min Read
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Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) today announced plans to acquire data archiving startup Persist Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed amount (see HP to Acquire Persist Technologies).

HP says Persist's technology will buttress its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy to let customers actively manage information from creation through deletion according to its business relevance. Persist makes an appliance that actively archives of email messages, Microsoft Office documents, and other file types (see Persist Packs Away Email). HP expects the acquisition to close within the next two weeks.

Rusty Smith, HP's director of information lifecycle management, says HP has been working with the startup for about a year and that the two companies have engaged a handful of joint customers.

"We've gotten to know each other quite well," says Smith. "We can see how we can take the resources of HP with the technology that Persist brings to the table and expedite our information lifecycle management strategy." He says the company will deliver an HP-branded version of the Persist appliance shortly after the first of 2004.

Persist's customer list includes ETrade and the U.S. Army, among others that HP and Persist are unable to name. "It's a small number of customers, but they're big customers," says Smith.The deal is the latest evidence that the storage industry has gone bonkers over the concept of ILM, which promises to let companies more effectively manage data over long periods of time. The likes of EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) have announced broad strategies geared around ILM, and StorageTek has even sought trademark protection over the term "information lifecycle management" (see StorageTek Adds More ILM, StorageTek Looks to Bag Buzzword, ILM Remains Illusory, EMC Salivates Over Software, and Arkivio Hosts ILM Forum).

Peeling back a layer of marketing-speak, Persist's appliance basically is designed to let users move huge amounts of data onto cheap ATA-based disk, similar to EMC's Centera content-addressable storage system. However, the Persist software also includes index, search, and retrieval features for searching both structured and unstructured content.

"The technology is designed around accessibility to the data, rather than around the storing of the information," Smith says.

Jean-Luc Chatelain, founder and CTO of Persist, adds that EMC's Centera and other disk-based content storage systems operate more like file systems, whereas Persist's technology provides access via application protocols like Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTP) -- "protocols that allow you to express your requests... We are higher up in the stack."

Persist delivers its AppStor product in modules, called SmartCells, which each have around 250 Gbytes of storage and Intel processors. Each appliance can handle up to 500 SmartCell modules -- meaning it can provide several hundred terabytes of storage capacity. The company's proprietary storage and retrieval software is built on the Linux operating system and Java programming language.Founded in February 2002, Persist has received $11 million in funding from ComVentures, ArrowPath Venture Capital, Red Rock Ventures, and Athena Technology Ventures.

The Pleasanton, Calif., company has about 40 employees, all of whom will be joining HP, Chatelain says.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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