Cisco Makes A Flash Move To Buy Whiptail

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Cisco’s move into solid state storage game could need squaring up with EMC

Cisco looks set to expand further into the storage space with a $415 million (£264.5m) acquisition of all-flash array provider Whiptail.

The networking giant has been doing well in the server space with its Unified Computing System offerings and now wants to move further into the storage space with super-fast but rather pricey solid state memory systems.

EMC squared?

“We are focused on providing a converged infrastructure including compute, network and high performance solid state that will help address our customers’ requirements for next-generation computing environments,” said Paul Perez, vice president and general manager for the Cisco Computing Systems Product Group.

“As we continue to innovate our unified platform, Whiptail will help realise our vision of scalable persistent memory which is integrated into the server, available as a fabric resource and managed as a globally shared pool.”

But Cisco is risking ending partnerships with key storage players, in particular EMC, which has invested heavily in all-flash arrays, buying XtremIO in 2012.

The pair’s relationship had already turned a little sour after it became clear the VCE joint venture, designed to provide a one-stop shop for data centre needs, was not bringing in profit.

Rumours were circulating last year that Cisco was to acquire an EMC competitor, which Whiptail  undoubtedly is – in the area of flash storage. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

Perez told TechWeekEurope he thought partners like EMC and NetApp would be happy about the move, as it could supplement their storage products.

“We see this move by Cisco as being very complimentary to those partnerships,” Perez said. “This is a move competitively against our server competitors that don’t have that [all-flash] capability in their infrastructure.”

VMware, 80 percent of which is owned by EMC, is also part of VCE and has been irritating Cisco with its own acquisitions, especially software-defined networking player Nicira. Some believe the partnership is through.

Despite the apparent tension, however, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior said at the end of last month the companies still had a strong partnership, even though she claimed there were limitations to VMware’s software-only approach to networking.

This article appeared on TechWeekEurope. Click here for the full story.