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Clustering NAS…The Quick and the Dead

by Administrator on February 9, 2010

In case you didn’t see the articles by Chris Mellor or Jean-Jacques Maleval, Dell looks likely to be picking up the IP of Exanet for $12M.  Investors had already pumped $70M into Exanet to produce a file system/NAS clustering technology, but the company applied for Chapter 7 in December, having failed to ink a $20M investment arrangement from, you guessed it, Dell.

I’m thinking that Dell saw something they liked in Exanet, but decided it would be cheaper to let the company die and buy its assets afterwards.  Such is the dog-eat-dog world of storage.

This comes on the heels of the acquisition of Exanet competitor IBRIX by HP last July and the 4th Quarter profitability announced by Isilon last week.  (They got to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ, an event about which Isilon spokespersons are quite proud.)

Isilon will be announcing some cool innovations on Thursday that I will blog about, but they are on a high right now with record revenue both quarter to quarter and year over year.  Sujal Patel is one of my heroes there, having dreamed up much of their NAS clustering technology, served as CTO, left the company then returned to take the helm.  He managed to turn it from an engineering-focused shop into a real business that now stands toe to toe with NetApp and wins deals in those contests many times.

The company attributes its success not only to its own smarts but also to the inevitable trend toward file-based, rather than block-based, data.  They said they regard the Dell acquisition as a further validation of the business case for scale-out NAS clustering.  Reminds me of when NetApp used to say of any new NAS company appearing in the market, “It validates our model.”

With what Isilon will be announcing on Thursday, the boys in Sunnyvale risk looking like they are standing still.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

gmehandru February 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Thanks for the great post. Competition breeds innovation and there’s much of both in scale-out storage these days. We’ll keep doing our part to keep things interesting.

Product Management
Isilon Systems

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