Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NetApp to buy LSI’s Engenio for $480 million

March 9, 2011 – Following Monday’s announcement of Western Digital’s plan to acquire Hitachi GST for $4.3 billion, consolidation in the storage industry continued today with NetApp’s surprise announcement that it will buy LSI’s Engenio business for $480 million in cash – the largest transaction in NetApp’s history. The deal is expected to close within 60 days.

NetApp officials expect the acquisition to add $750 million to its revenue stream in fiscal 2012, and to add $5 billion to its total addressable market (TAM) by 2014.

LSI’s Engenio division had revenues of $705 million in 2010. (LSI’s entire storage portfolio generated revenues of $954 million in 2010.)

The new unit will be run by Manish Goel, executive vice president of NetApp’s product operations.

It’s important to note that NetApp is buying only the Engenio product line (external disk arrays), not LSI’s other storage lines (e.g., the ONStor and MegaRAID and 3ware controller/adapter families).

In acquisitions such as this, it’s customary to examine product overlap between the two companies’ product lines. However, NetApp officials didn’t really address that during their conference call. Instead, they focused on new workloads (vertical markets) that the company can penetrate better with Engenio’s technology than with NetApp's FAS technology. NetApp officials cited video (including full-motion and surveillance) and high performance computing (HPC), as well as multimedia, oil and gas, semiconductor simulation, weather simulation, medical imaging, and content distribution.

In addition to those new fast-growth verticals, NetApp officials noted that the Engenio acquisition will significantly expand NetApp’s channel strategy.

Fine, but the interesting question is what will happen to Engenio’s OEMs partnerships. Engenio’s OEMs include IBM (Engenio’s largest customer, and already a NetApp partner), Oracle/Sun, Dell, SGI and Teradata.

In today’s conference call, NetApp CEO Tom Georgens (who was formerly with Engenio) subtly danced around this issue, and downplayed the OEM side of the deal. Here are some clips from Georgens:

“Clearly, we have to have dialogue [with Engenio’s OEMs ]. . . Our objective is not to undermine the OEM business; our objective is work hand-in-hand with them . . . [but] if things change and a relationship becomes less friendly, I think we have the tools to compete that the previous owner of this business did not.”

More clips: “We expect [the OEM business] to roll off a bit. It’s certainly not going to be a growth element. The growth will come from the new business . . . and expanded TAM . . . At the price we’re paying . . . and the potential return, I think we would have justified this transaction with no OEM business.”

And in response to a question about whether NetApp would be able to keep all of Engenio’s OEMs: “I think that we’ll keep a number of them, or a large portion of the OEMs, but I don’t think we’ll keep every dollar of OEM revenue . . . I’m not saying that OEMs don’t matter, but the growth is elsewhere [in the new vertical markets].”

I’d guess that the OEM relationships with Oracle/Sun and Dell will be on shaky ground, but if the storage opportunities in areas such as video and HPC grow as rapidly as expected, and NetApp can gain significant market share in those verticals with the Engenio technology, then the OEM side of this equation may not matter.

As for LSI: The company’s press release said that “The strategic decision to divest the external storage systems business was based on the company’s expectation that long-term shareholder value can be maximized by becoming a pure-play semiconductor company.” In conjunction with the acquisition announcement, LSI said that its board of directors has authorized a new stock repurchase program of up to $750 million.

Monday, March 7, 2011

EMC lengthens its lead in disk array fray

March 7, 2011 – Despite impressive growth from some its arch rivals (most notably, NetApp) EMC appears to be widening the gap between itself and its collective competitors, according to a report on the disk systems market by IDC. The market research company recently issued statistics for the fourth quarter and full-year 2010, including market size, vendor shares and revenues.

EMC capped 2010 with a 25.6% market share on revenue of $5.44 billion in the external disk systems market. That compares to a 2009 market share of 22.9% on revenue of $4.1 billion.

Rounding out the top 5 in 2010 were IBM (13.8% share, down slightly from a 14.3% slice the previous year), NetApp and HP (tied with 11.1% market shares) and Dell (9.1% share on 2010 revenue of almost $2 billion).

EMC posted impressive 2009—2010 revenue growth of 32.5%, but that was overshadowed by NetApp’s whopping 49.5% revenue growth. NetApp raked in $2.35 billion in 2010, vs. $1.57 billion in 2009.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how HP’s acquisition of 3PAR, EMC's acquisition of Isilon, and Dell’s acquisition of Compellent will alter the market share dynamics and revenues.

Conspicuously absent from the top 5 in 2010 was Hitachi Data Systems. However, HDS did claw its way into the top 5 in the fourth quarter of 2010, ending the quarter in a virtual tie with Dell for the last spot. HDS garnered an 8.7% share in 4Q10 on revenue of $533 million vs. Dell’s 7.9% share on revenue of $483 million.

In the fourth quarter, EMC pulled in $1.58 billion for a 26% market share. That compares to a share of 23.9% in 4Q 2009 ($1.25 billion in revenue).

However, NetApp’s surge was again apparent in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company posted year-over-year revenue growth of 43.7% (vs. 26.3% for EMC), and closed the gap with HP on revenue of $630 million vs. HP’s $704 million.

Last year was a good one for the external disk systems market, which grew by 18.3% to top $21 billion.

Breaking down 4Q10 by market segments: the NAS market grew 41.3% year over year. EMC was #1 in NAS, followed by NetApp at 23.7%.

The iSCSI market posted equally impressive gains, growing 42.1% in 4Q10 vs. 4Q09. Dell was #1 in the iSCSI space with a 32.6% share, followed by HP (14.7%) and EMC (13.4%).

One more fun fact: EMC has been #1 in the external disk systems market for 14 consecutive years.

For more details, see IDC’s press release: “Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Finishes 2010 with Double-Digit Growth on Strong Fourth Quarter Results.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

What are your post-lease options?

March 4, 2011 – When your lease or warranty runs out (or even when you’re on lease or warranty), you have a number of options. You can undergo a total technology refresh and buy new systems from your primary storage supplier – an expensive option, and it’s likely that you don’t really need the latest and greatest gear. Or, you can re-up and sign an extended service-and-support agreement with your primary vendor – another expensive option.

Alternatively, you can contract with a third party that provides support for all kinds of IT hardware. But let’s say you’re a NetApp shop: What level of expertise does a general-purpose third party really have on NetApp systems?

A third alternative is to sign a services-and-support contract with a third party that specializes specifically in the type of hardware you have. In the case of NetApp systems, a good example is Zerowait.

I recently chatted with Mike Linett, Zerowait’s president and CEO, and Rob Robinson, the company’s vice president of sales.

Zerowait specializes in service and support of NetApp equipment – and only NetApp. Prior to 2002, Zerowait was a NetApp reseller, but when NetApp nixed that deal Zerowait moved into the service and support business, competing with NetApp.

Linett claims that Zerowait typically charges about half of what NetApp charges for service and support. But according to one of Zerowait’s customers, the savings could actually be much higher.

“Zerowait is 50% to 90% less expensive than NetApp, depending how old your hardware is,” says Balazs Nagy, manager and chief architect at NewPush, an application and data warehousing hosting company. “The older the equipment, the more prohibitive NetApp makes it for service and support, and if the equipment is very old NetApp won’t even support it.”

NewPush has a services and support agreement with Zerowait that covers four NetApp systems.

Besides the basic support you would expect from a third party, what can a company such as Zerowait provide?

“Zerowait allows us to have spare parts onsite at a very low cost,” says Nagy, “but they also provide much more in-depth phone support than NetApp does, as well as remote or onsite engineering, architecting and education services.”

In a time of tight IT budgets, Zerowait seems to have a good business model. The company grew 45% last year, according to Linett. And Zerowait is expanding worldwide (Europe in 2008 and Australia near the end of last year).

“The typical lease is three years, but these days a lot of people want to extend that to five or six years before they do a refresh,” says Zerowait’s Robinson.

In addition to third-party support services, Zerowait also offers off-lease transferable license systems. More recently, the company began selling its SimplStor system for secondary storage. SimplStor is based on commodity hardware (SuperMicro chassis and drives from Seagate or Hitachi) and open-source operating systems.

NewPush, for example, recently began offering private remotely-managed storage services based on Zerowait’s SimplStor. The service, which starts at $75 per TB per month, is positioned as an alternative to public cloud storage services.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chelsio challenges Emulex, QLogic, Intel, et al

February 28, 2011 – If you look at the converged network adapter market through the eyes of a storage professional, the first two vendors that may come to mind are Emulex and QLogic. If you look at it from a network professional’s view, you might think first of Intel and Broadcom. And if you’re into the high performance computing/clustering space, you might think of Mellanox.

There’s another key player in the converged adapter market: Chelsio Communications, which today announced a line of Unified Wire Adapters based on its Terminator 4 (T4) chips.

I recently spoke with Kianoosh Naghshineh, Chelsio’s CEO.

In the converged adapter market, vendors tend to crow about a few things: first to market, which generation silicon they’re on, how many storage/networking protocols they support and/or offload, how many virtualization standards they support, and how many ports per adapter they have.

Chelsio is firing on all those fronts. For example, the company introduced seven fourth-generation (T4-based) PCIe 2.0 adapters today with a variety of port configurations, including a version with four 10GbE ports and a version with four 1GbE ports. That differentiates Chelsio from some of the other players in the converged adapter market.

I hate to draw up laundry lists, but there’s no other way to convey how Chelsio differentiates itself from some of the other, more well-known, players – so here we go:

In terms of offload functionality, Chelsio has a TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE), and also claims to be able to offload iWARP RDMA, iSCSI (full offload in T4), FCoE (open FCoE as well as full HBA, or hardware-based, FCoE offload ), UDP, and Multicast – most of which is new in the fourth generation adapters. The adapters also support the Data Center Bridging (DCB) protocol. (Of course, this begs the question of who would possibly want, or need, to run all of those protocols, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

In terms of virtualization-related standards, Chelsio claims to support SR-IOV, VEB, VEPA, Flex10 and QFC/VNTag in its fourth-generation T4 adapters. The converged network adapters also include an embedded switch, which can be beneficial in virtualized environments because it can switch traffic from as many as 140 virtual and physical ports per adapter.

And Chelsio supports all that stuff on a single card and with one firmware version. (Some other converged network adapter vendors have different cards/firmware for different protocols.)

Pricing for Chelsio’s adapters starts at $579.

Unlike some other converged network adapter vendors, Chelsio does not announce all of its OEM design wins, but its publicly-announced server/storage OEMs include EMC (Isilon and Data Domain), HP, IBM, NEC and SGI. And Chelsio claims more than 100 OEM platform wins; 100,000+ ports shipped; and year-over-year revenue growth of 50%.

My point? The market for CNAs will be much more crowded and competitive than originally expected.

Related blog posts:

Intel’s card play in unified networking

Broadcom claims 2 million+ IOPS on converged controller

Related articles:

Emulex ships 10GbE CNAs to the channel

QLogic announces 10GbE NICs, CNAs

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cloud storage: Nirvanix takes shots at Amazon S3, EMC Atmos

February 24, 2011 – IDC predicts that by 2014 the cloud storage market will exceed $7 billion per year. That compares to about $1.5 billion in 2009. Assuming IDC’s prediction comes true (which is debatable), it’s no wonder that so many vendors are crowding into the cloud storage space.
But every small cloud storage equipment/services provider has to come up with a business case that sets them apart from the 800-pound gorillas in the market, most notably Amazon and EMC.

All of the smaller players have value propositions versus the big boys, but Nirvanix has recently become one of the more vocal challengers. To back up their claims, Nirvanix officials cite customers such as NBC Universal and GE, both of which deployed Nirvanix’s cloud storage platform after evaluating Amazon S3, EMC Atmos and other alternatives.

I recently chatted with Geoff Tudor, vice president for strategy and business development at Nirvanix, and Steve Zivanic, Nirvanix’s new vice president of marketing.

Versus Amazon’s S3, Nirvanix claims a number of advantages. For example, unlike Amazon, Nirvanix allows customers -- including security auditors -- to inspect its data centers (of which there are seven worldwide). That might not be a big deal for many companies, but for those that still harbor concerns about certain aspects of the cloud – such as security – it might be important.

Nirvanix also allows customers to determine where their data will reside, and to provision their data, and guarantees Quality of Service (QoS) levels. And Nirvanix enables federation of public (remote) and private (local) clouds.

Versus EMC Atmos, Nirvanix claims scalability advantages (billions vs. millions of files), the ability to federate public and private clouds (vs. only private clouds), and independence from specific hardware and file systems. Nirvanix’s Web Services Layer can sit on top of virtually any file system, including those from NetApp, EMC (Isilon and Celerra) Exanet and Ibrix. In addition, Nirvanix users only pay for usable capacity (aka storage-as-a-service); there are no extra charges for data protection capacity (e.g., replication, RAID 6).

Nirvanix also differentiates its approach to cloud storage by offering different deployment options, which the company collectively refers to as “CloudComplete.” At the heart of each deployment option is the CloudNAS gateway.

From there, users can leverage Nirvanix’s Storage Delivery Network (SDN) public cloud platform, which provides a federated, tiered grid with a single namespace and unified view, or go with the company’s hNode software, which provides a cloud services layer for hybrid (public and/or private) cloud architectures.

More cloud storage articles:
Is cloud-enabled DR ready for prime time?
EMC debuts self-service platform for cloud storage
eSilo tackles cloud-based backup, DR
3X upgrades cloud storage appliances

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NetApp profits up, shares down

February 16, 2011 -- NetApp reported results for its fiscal 2011 third quarter on Wednesday. Revenue and earnings numbers were impressive, but guidance was apparently viewed as weak because investors sent NetApp’s stock price south.

NetApp raked in revenues of $1.27 billion in the third quarter. That compares to slightly more than $1 billion in the same period a year ago – a 25% growth rate.

Revenues for the first nine months of the fiscal year were $3.61 billion. And NetApp officials estimated revenue for the upcoming fourth quarter of approximately $1.38 billion. That means that the company has a good chance of topping the $5 billion mark for the full fiscal year.

Net income in 3Q2011 was $172 million, or $0.42 per share, compared to net income of $108 billion, or $0.30 a share, in 3Q2010.

Hardware (or what NetApp calls “product”) revenue was $818.6, up 32% year-over-year and +5% over the previous quarter. Software (“software entitlement and maintenance”) revenue was $183.8 million, which is a gain of 8% y-o-y and 3% sequentially. Revenue from services was $265.7 million, up 20% over the same quarter a year ago, and +6.5% sequentially.

I’m not a savvy investor, but those numbers look pretty good to me. Nevertheless, at one point after the report NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) shares were down about 6%. I’d guess that they’ll recover fairly rapidly.

During its third quarter, NetApp made the biggest product launch in company history (see “NetApp overhauls product line, from arrays to OS” ).

More recently, the company bought Akorri (see “NetApp to acquire Akorri Networks” ), and plans to roll Akorri’s BalancePoint management suite into the NetApp OnCommand management suite.

Related article: “EMC announces 41 new products”

Monday, February 14, 2011

LTO crushes other tape formats

I’ve been around long enough to remember when the tape format wars were among the more interesting skirmishes in the storage industry. Remember LTO vs. DLT, DAT vs. AIT, 8mm vs. QIC, Stones vs. Beatles?
Today, the LTO tape format commands 87.2% of the tape cartridge market (excluding mainframe-oriented formats), according to tape media market research from the Santa Clara Consulting Group (SCCG). In the fourth quarter of 2010, revenue from LTO tape cartridges was about $182 million, vs. $209 million for the total tape cartridge market.

The surge in shipments of LTO cartridges is due in large part to the popularity of the newest generation of the format – LTO-5. Shipments of LTO-5 cartridges doubled in Q4 vs. Q3 (as was the case in Q3 vs. Q2), accounting for 10% of total cartridge sales and 25% of total revenue.

Even shipments of LTO-4 tape cartridges were up in the fourth quarter, representing 48% of total unit shipments and 24% of revenues.

At its current rate of market share gains, LTO will command more than 90% of the tape cartridge market by the end of this year.

HP led the LTO media market with a 34% market share, followed by Fujifilm and IBM, according to SCCG.

Near the end of last year, the LTO Program vendors (HP, IBM and Quantum) claimed that more than 3.3 million LTO tape drives, and more than 150 million LTO cartridges, have been shipped since the format was introduced.

Shipments of all other tape formats – including DDS/DAT, DLT, AIT, QIC and 8mm -- continued their ongoing declines. However, revenue from QIC cartridges – the oldest of the mid-range tape formats – still exceeded $1.8 million in the fourth quarter of last year.

Other tape-related blogs:

Who says tape is dead?

Tape: Spectra revenue up 60%, Oracle ships 5TB drive