Storage Insider: A tale of two storage acquisitions

Returning to work after a two-week vacation, I wasn't all that surprised to see acquisition news pop up from my inbox. After all, this is storage, where it's not unusual to see one vendor or the other on a buying spree.

One of those acquisitions is Emulex buying Sierra Logic, a deal that would challenge even the most severe judges to come up with criticism.

Why? First of all, there's an undeniable synergy between the two vendors' product lines: Sierra Logic's products facilitate connecting inexpensive SATA drives to a FC infrastructure, which fits Emulex's portfolio (embedded switches, HBAs, and more) like a glove.

Moreover, the two vendors were already cooperating in serving a common pool of customers, which means that those customers will gain the convenience of having a single networked storage provider, consolidating technically complex provisioning.

Looking at the acquisition from the buyer perspective, it's obvious that Sierra Logic is yet another important tile in Emulex's long -- and so far successful -- effort to cover a larger segment of the storage market. In fact, by merging foreign technologies from several acquisitions and partners with its own, Emulex has quietly put together the ability to offer embedded fabric products capable of directing data to several destinations without breaking business applications.

Let's put a familiar label on that mosaic of technologies: storage virtualization, or rather the seeds from which Emulex customers -- think of any big, tier-one name in storage -- can grow their virtualization landscape.

Is Emulex-Sierra Logic a match made in heaven? Sounds like it. Unfortunately I can't be as optimistic about the other recent deal: Tandberg Data's purchase of Exabyte for a pittance, about US$50 million if I read the buyer statements correctly.

There's a lot I don't like about that acquisition. For starters, the two vendors' product lines have too much overlap -- they both offer autoloaders aimed at small datacenters, for example. Even more troublesome, they have competing proprietary tape formats (Tandberg's SLR and Exabyte's VXA), both regarded by each vendor as "the most reliable tape technology."

Will Tandberg be able to maintain its newly acquired jewels along with the old ones? I haven't seen any statement from Tandberg about their plans, and I'd wager that we probably won't see one soon, considering that a large chunk of the acquisition price will go to appease Exabyte creditors.

Nevertheless, I hope that Tandberg will soon make its intentions clear. There are many customers and prospects waiting to know whether this marks an ending point or a new start for Exabyte.

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