HP to buy Ibrix for scale-out storage

The planned acquisition of file serving software vendor Ibrix Inc by Palo Alto, Calif-based Hewlett Packard Co is likely a move to bolster its StorageWorks offerings with scale-out storage, especially in an economic climate where storage needs aren’t slowing down, said one analyst.

The news of the acquisition is part of a general trend towards consolidation in the data centre infrastructure space, where the current economic downturn affects smaller companies with innovative offerings and allows larger companies with cash to benefit from the situation, said John Sloan, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.

“Storage is one area that tends to have some kind of growth even in a slow economy because as soon as a business is operating, it tends to generate more stuff and the need to store it somewhere remains,” said Sloan.

The acquisition of Billerica, Mass.-based Ibrix “fits right into our overall strategy,” said Dave Frederickson, vice-president of the enterprise storage and servers group (ESS) at Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. Many large organizations are building out grid computing and high performance technical computing environments, as well as beginning to implement private and public clouds, said Frederickson, “so this is where this type of a user-friendly and cost-effective solution would sit.”

Customer demand for scalable storage is primarily driven by data-intensive applications and the need to have access to the right data at the right time, said Frederickson. “So, it’s being able to, from an ease-of-use (perspective) as well as (in) a cost-effective way, store massive amounts of end-user-generated data,” said Frederickson.

Sloan said Ibrix technology makes it possible to cluster several storage devices into one virtualized storage pool with the ability to add it if necessary, explained Sloan.

However, HP did acquire another file serving software vendor, PolyServe, in 2007, noted Sloan, so “one of the questions is, how will PolyServe and Ibrix be melded together in terms of HP’s product offerings?”

Also in the file services space is NetApp and its OnTap GX, noted Sloan, “so, that’s a potential competitor in that area with HP now.”

Consolidation in the storage arena is also demonstrated by the recent bidding war between EMC Corp. and NetApp over DataDomain. Sloan said the companies “were looking at de-duplication technologies that DataDomain has as a way of getting more efficient use of disk in backup and VTL (virtual tape library) environments.”

Once the acquisition is complete, Frederickson said Ibrix will be integrated into the unified storage division within HP StorageWorks in the technology solutions group. “Between now and when the transaction closes, Ibrix and HP will work together to develop an integration plan that optimizes the unique expertise and assets of both companies,” he said.

Frederickson wouldn’t say more aside from the fact that Ibrix CEO Milan Shetti will have a role within HP post-acquisition.

With the integration of Ibrix into the HP portfolio, Frederickson said, will be particularly relevant to education space in the Canadian market, “where there are amalgamations of these nets that have been created where you’ve got your shared services that are being implemented.”

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