In a move to beef up its networking business, Dell has signed an agreement to acquire Ocarina Networks. With the purchase, Dell gets access to storage-optimization technology -- including compression and deduplication -- that promises to reduce data-management costs and streamline operations for its EqualLogic customers.
Ocarina offers what's called "content-aware optimization technology" that reduces storage space demands by reducing redundant data. The market for this product class is driven by the exploding volume of data from the Internet, e-mail and images even as requirements to retain data get stricter. The technology works to reduce the costs of disk capacity, network bandwidth, power and cooling, data-center space, and management.
"Content-aware deduplication allows us to provide a true global approach to deduplication across the data center and has a tremendous ripple effect of cost savings that frees up budgets for strategic investments," said Brad Anderson, Dell senior vice president of the enterprise product group.
Dell pointed to the "virtual era" and its strategy to drive an open and integrated approach to data management as a key reason for the Ocarina purchase. The company said Ocarina deduplication technology complements its EqualLogic solutions. Ocarina CEO Murli Thirumale said the Dell acquisition will bring deduplication technology to "not only primary storage, but also to key storage work flows, including backup, replication, migration and tiering."
Photobucket, a customer of both Ocarina and Dell, is excited about the possibilities. James Goss, vice president of operations at Photobucket, sees the opportunity for Dell to take Ocarina's technology and expand capabilities for the online photo site's business, which manages billions of unique image files that consume petabytes of storage.
"Ocarina solutions are reducing our storage footprint by over 40 percent, over and above the existing JPEG compression, which is making a big impact on our storage and networking costs," Goss said. "I'm encouraged to see that Ocarina will now fit into my existing support structure with Dell and run on the same hardware already in my data center. I look forward to seeing how Dell can leverage Ocarina into its existing and future storage products."
Competing with EMC
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, called the Ocarina acquisition a significant enhancement to Dell's EqualLogic storage business. He sees the deduplication technology fitting into the storage needs of both small and large businesses.
"This is a nice choice of technology for smaller companies that have used traditional direct-attached storage or low-end IP-based storage networks because it allows them to beef up their storage technologies," King said. "This also allows larger companies that have traditionally maintained both fiber-channel and Ethernet storage to better leverage storage assets across the entire organization."
With this acquisition, Dell also will compete with EMC and its Avamar deduplication technology. Like Ocarina, EMC Avamar backup and recovery solutions utilize patented global data-deduplication technology to identify redundant data at the source and reduce the need to back up data before it's sent over the network.
"EMC has been very successful with its Avamar deduplication technology. Although Dell works very closely with EMC and sells EMC technologies, it was important for Dell to get into deduplication and data compression and offer those features in its own portfolio," King said. "This allows Dell to tell an across-the-storage-network value story."