Mating Season

All of us in India know that the dark clouds during the monsoons bring the best out of the peacocks. They gloriously spread their beautiful feathers and call out for their mates.  This wonderful sight and the mating cries let you know that someone is being wooed. Something similar to this has been happening in the Storage world in the recent past.

Unless you had taken a vacation and gone off to Tibet to meditate in peace, you would have heard about the mating dance performed by EMC and NetApp. The object of their affection: Data Domain. NetApp started the process by spreading it dollar feathers.  And when you spread billions of them, it is bound to affect the opposite sex positively. No wonder Data Domain was impressed. But the Storage jungle is a cruel place and you cannot be assured that the initial impression created will be enough to tie the knot. EMC, which heard NetApps mating call, immediately responded with another impressive display of its own feathers. And it spread its feathers wider than NetApp. This confused Data Domain, which had a soft corner for NetApp!! NetApp had to respond. It spread it feathers a bit more and told Data Domain that it has something called stock option, which will enable more feathers to sprout in the future and the display will be even more glorious. EMC refuted that assertion and felt a bird in hand is worth two in the bush!! For some time, the spread of the feathers remained constant and it was time for mating calls. ‘You will fit well in my family’, ‘We have synergy’, ‘Govt will not approve of your marriage’, ‘It’s is a wonderful family’ and so and so forth. By all indications, Data Domain’s soft corner for NetApp still existed and things were at an impasse. Then EMC did what everyone was expecting it to do. It added more feathers to its already glittering display and that ensured Data Domain swooned in its favor. NetApp had to beat a retreat.

All in all, the whole mating process enlivened the Storage industry and specifically the blogsphere. How long can you keep on discussing if thin provisioning is important or how to save money through virtualization etc? You need something to stir things up and the Data Domain drama was godsend for many. Experts spent a lot of time analyzing what this would mean to EMC, what this would mean to NetApp and from the sidelines were predicting the winner. Now that EMC has won, people started wondering if EMC has overpaid for Data Domain, whether it will clash with already existing products etc etc. But as we all know once integrated, Data Domain becomes EMC family and family quarrels are never as interesting as a mating fight or a lover’s tiff. To be fair, EMC, by all reports, has done an excellent job of integrating their acquisitions and I am sure this will also work out well. The central question has been whether it is worth paying so much for DeDup, which according to many, is a feature and not a product. Time, as usual, will provide us the answer.

That it was a great mating was evident when HP, without any drama, bought IBRIX, which is into scalable parallel file systems. HP has been partnering with IBRIX on various deals. LSI Logic bought ONStor, which makes Clustered NAS solutions. Both IBRIX and ONStor have the scale out capability and the general thinking is that everyone is targetting acquisitions aimed at fortifying their positions in the Cloud Computing space. Let’s wait and see how things turn out in the future. Meanwhile, lets hope such things happen to enliven all of us once in while. This is one area where we wouldn’t mind some duplication, would we? !!