NetApp have finally bitten the bullet and bought an AFA vendor; plumping for the technology driven Solidfire as opposed to some of the marketing driven competitors in the space.
At less than a billion dollars; it appears to be a very good deal for NetApp and perhaps with an ever decreasing number of suitors, it is a good deal for Solidfire and avoids the long march to IPO.
Obviously the whole deal will be painted as complementary to NetApp’s current product set but many will hope that Solidfire will long-term supplant the long-in-the-tooth OnTap. NetApp need to swallow their pride and need to move on from the past.
It can’t do this immediately; it needs work and it is not yet a solution for unstructured data. But putting data-services on top of it should not be a massive task as long as that is what NetApp decide to do and they don’t decide to try to integrate it with OnTap. NetApp can’t afford another decade of engineering faff! Funnily enough though , FC is seen as a relatively weak-point for Solidfire; where have we heard the before?
This could be as big a deal for them as EMC’s acquisition of Data General in 1999; the Clariion business brought some great engineers and a business that turned into a cash-cow for them. It allowed them to move into a different space and gave them options; it probably saved the company whilst they were messing up the Symmetrix line.
And whilst EMC/Dell are integrating themselves; NetApp have a decent opportunity to steal a march on their arch-rivals; especially if they take a light touch and continue to allow Solidfire to act like an engineering-led start-up.
I still have my doubts whether a storage-focused behemoth can actually survive long-term as data-centres change and buying behaviours change. But for the time being, NetApp have an interesting product again.
Interesting times for friends at both companies…
p.s anyone want to buy a pair of Solidfire socks?