IBM to Buy Storwize for Real-Time Data Compression

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One of the worst kept secrets in the data storage industry became official today with the news that IBM has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Storwize in an effort to add real-time data compression to its storage portfolio.

The acquisition is anticipated to close in the third quarter of 2010, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed, however the industry buzz is that the total could be upwards of $140 million.

Storwize’s technology is capable of compressing primary data, or data that clients are actively using, of multiple types – from files to virtualization images to databases – in real-time while maintaining performance.

Storwize’s Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) is based on the industry-standard compression algorithm and uses Storwize’s patented technology for real-time data compression without performance degradation.

The company claims that by compressing primary data, Storwize users can store up to five times more data using the same amount of storage, preventing storage sprawl and lowering power and cooling costs. Compressing data in real-time can also help make data available up to four times faster for transaction workloads.

In a statement, Ed Walsh, Storwize CEO, said, “Our customers will benefit significantly as our talented employees and innovative storage solutions merge with IBM’s world-wide reach in sales, service and research and development.”

IBM (NYSE: IBM) plans to put the Storwize compression technology wherever it will fit. The company pointed to its XIV high-end disk storage architecture, Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) system, System Storage Easy Tier feature, and its ProtecTIER deduplication products as potential integration points.

The Storwize appliance works with NAS systems, including the IBM N series and SONAS, as well as non-IBM NAS systems from EMC, HP, NetApp and others.

The Storage Optimization Arms Race

IBM’s acquisition of Storwize comes on the heels of Dell’s acquisition of Ocarina Networks, which offers content-aware storage optimization technology through a combination of data deduplication and compression.

The Dell-Ocarina deal had many in the industry speculating about the fate of Storwize and the rest of the storage optimization pack (see ”Dell to Acquire Ocarina for Data Deduplication”).

David Vellante, co-founder of The Wikibon Project, believes IBM’s acquisition of Storwize will set IBM apart from competitors in the market. He wrote:

“Storwize has solved an incredibly difficult problem and has invented a technology that IBM sees as strategic which can be placed across its substantial storage portfolio, without sacrificing performance. This brings continued differentiation to the IBM product line as the company fights to gain share in the highly competitive storage market space.”

For more on Vellante’s take, see his latest blog “IBM Squeezes Storwize into its Portfolio.”

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Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.

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