STORAGE

  • 12/21/2015
    4:00 PM
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NetApp Snaps Up Flash Startup SolidFire

Veteran storage supplier acquires hot storage startup to boost its all-flash portfolio.

NetApp has inked a deal to acquire SolidFire for $870 million in cash to bolster its position in the fast-growing all-flash storage array market.

The acquisition of SolidFire's all-flash storage systems complements NetApp's all-flash arrays and uniquely positions the company to target three market segments -- enterprise infrastructure buyers, application owners and web-scale organizations, NetApp CEO George Kurian said in a conference call Monday.

Founded in 2010, SolidFire targeted its solid-state drive storage platforms at cloud service providers. Earlier this year, the Boulder, Colo.-based company was named by Gartner as a "visionary" in its 2015 Magic Quadrant for solid-state arrays for the second consecutive year.

"The all-flash array part of the market is definitely hot," Stuart Miniman, Wikibon senior analyst and principal research contributor, told me in an interview Monday.  NetApp's acquisition of SolidFire will help it compete better against IBM, HP, and EMC, he said.

However, Miniman said NetApp doesn't have a good history when it comes to acquisitions. He cited Spinnaker Networks and Decru as examples of acquisitions that NetApp handled poorly.

"I've got a lot of friends at SolidFire. They've got solid technology and an excellent team," he said. NetApp needs "to take a page from what EMC has done [with acquisitions], which is to let the products have a bit of independence," he added.

Miniman noted that NetApp has had a lot of challenges recently. According to CRN, which broke the news about the SolidFire deal, NetApp has dealt with many financial problems this year and many of its executives have left the company, including former CEO Tom Georgens. CRN also reported that Cisco, EMC and Samsung had tried to buy SolidFire.

In a blog post this fall, Miniman noted that most all-flash array products target enterprise deployments with the exception of SolidFire, which he said "has strong adoption in service providers and a significant number of OpenStack deployments."

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp said it will incorporate SolidFire products into its data fabric strategy and expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2016. SolidFire CEO Dave Wright will lead the SolidFire product line within NetApp.

In Monday's conference call, Kurian said NetApp plans to discontinue its FlashRay all-flash array product line after the deal is completed.


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