Sources: NetApp To Pull Trigger On SolidFire Acquisition Today


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NetApp is expected to disclose its acquisition of flash storage array startup SolidFire after the stock market closes Monday, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CRN. 

Cisco Systems, EMC and Samsung were also in the hunt for SolidFire and talked with the startup about a potential acquisition, said the sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.

Spokespeople from NetApp and SolidFire didn't respond to requests for comment. CRN first reported that NetApp was preparing to make a $1.2 billion bid for SolidFire last week. [Update: NetApp Monday said it plans to pay $870 million in cash for SolidFire in a deal expected to close in NetApp's fiscal fourth quarter of 2016, which ends in April.]

[Related: NetApp To Make $1.2 Billion Bid For SolidFire -- Sources]

Samsung Ventures was the lead investor in SolidFire's $31 million Series C round in 2013. Cisco and SolidFire held talks earlier this year about an acquisition or strategic partnership but were unable to come to terms, sources told CRN in June.

"NetApp believes their future is their hybrid strategy," said one NetApp partner, who didn't want to be named. "Any physical storage will be all-flash, everything else is cloud or software."

Boulder, Colo.-based SolidFire touts the endurance of its flash storage hardware systems through a program called FlashForward, which includes a guarantee that the flash memory in the array won't wear out over time.

SolidFire also sells a software-only version of its technology called Element X which is aimed at hyper-scale data centers, service providers and OEMs. It's also heavily involved in OpenStack, a set of open-source technologies used to build private and public clouds.

SolidFire has raised just over $150 million in funding in five rounds since its founding in 2010, the latest an $82 million Series D in October 2014 led by Greenspring Associates and Silicon Valley Bank, according to Crunchbase.

NetApp already has a storage array portfolio that includes the AFF line of scalable all-flash arrays based on the company's Data Ontap operating system, and the E-series line of high-performance all-flash arrays. SolidFire has a close partnership with Dell as well as an OEM agreement in which its software is sold on Dell servers.

NetApp has been dealing with financial turmoil and a steady stream of executive departures for most of this year, including CEO Tom Georgens, who was let go by the company's board of directors in June, and 20-year veteran Rob Salmon, who announced his retirement last month.

New NetApp CEO George Kurian has pledged to boost efficiencies in NetApp's declining legacy storage product lines, and double down on the cloud and flash storage markets.

PUBLISHED DEC. 21, 2015

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