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EMC Buys Flash Array Startup XtremIO for Reported $430 Million

EMC Buys Flash Array Startup XtremIO for Reported $430 Million
By Jennifer LeClaire

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EMC said adding XtremIO to its flash portfolio mix will extend its capabilities to develop and deliver networked storage infrastructures that are dynamically optimized for performance, intelligence, and protection for both physical and virtualized cloud environments. EMC acquired XtremIO for a reported $430 million.

In a move to beef up its flash storage architecture, EMC on Wednesday unveiled its latest acquisition: XtremIO. Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Israeli business news site Globes pegs the price at $430 million in an all-cash deal.

EMC is betting Israel startup XtremIO's technology will give it an added dimension as it works to keep improving its flash storage portfolio. XtremIO's all-flash, scale-out, enterprise storage architecture is designed to leverage the speed and unique abilities of flash memory.

"XtremIO brings to EMC amazing technology with a fantastic team that's captured praise from early-view customers and many of the industry's foremost thinkers," said Pat Gelsinger, president and COO of EMC Information Infrastructure Products. "We fully expect XtremIO technology, once introduced to market, to have a tremendous impact on our customers' ability to leverage the unique advantages of all-flash storage across many of their most demanding applications."

EMC's Flash Thunders

EMC entered the flash storage market in 2008 and was the first to integrate flash drives into enterprise storage arrays. EMC shipped to customers over 24 PBs of flash drive capacity in 2011. EMC said XtremIO complements the range of its flash-based systems and software, which includes VMAX , VMAXe , VNX, VNXe and Isilon storage arrays.

EMC said adding XtremIO to its flash portfolio mix will extend its capabilities to develop and deliver networked storage infrastructures that are dynamically optimized for performance, intelligence, and protection for both physical and virtualized cloud environments.

Just weeks ago EMC also announced "Project Thunder," which optimized for high-frequency, low-latency read/write workloads. Project Thunder will build on the advanced PCIe technology delivered in VFCache to leverage the power of flash through a dedicated server networked flash-based appliance.

Flash Going Mainstream?

We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on EMC's position in the flash storage business and how XtremIO fits into its portfolio. He told us the acquisition appears to be another reflection of the fact that EMC sees flash technology as the future of storage and intends to remain on the leading edge.

"There have certainly been different kinds of efforts to leverage flash over the last five or six years," King said. "The really prohibitive issue in the early days was how much more expensive flash was than traditional hard drives."

King noted that flash still sells at a premium -- anywhere between 10 and 20 times the cost of hard disks -- but the overall performance is so much better and prices have dropped to the point that the performance versus cost equation is more attractive. He expects to see flash hit the mainstream as time goes on.

"With EMC picking up XtremIO, it wouldn't be surprising to see some of EMC's primary competitors feel they need to get up to speed very quickly -- and the way to do that is through an acquisition," King said. "So some of the specialty flash players may be acquisition candidates. When you see one domino fall you expect to see two or three others go in quick succession."

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