More Data And Storage Networking Convergence: SolarWinds Buys Tek-Tools

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SolarWinds spent a combination of cash and stock of up to $42 million for Tek-Tools assets, including the Tek-Tools Profiler suite of products which gives users visibility into the performance of storage and virtualized server infrastructures.

Also included in the deal are Tek-Tools offices in Dallas and in Chennai, India.

SolarWinds, a 10-year-old company based in Austin, Texas, is the developer of the Orion suite of network management tools, including Orion Network Performance Monitor for fault and network performance management, Orion Network Config Manager for network change and configuration automation and management, and several related products.

Tek-Tools is the developer of Profiler Suite, a modular, Web-based, real-time and historical resource monitoring, forecasting, and reporting software suite which provides a policy-driven automation framework targeting SAN, NAS, direct attached storage, and mission-critical applications.

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Bringing storage and networking technologies together has become a rather common technology move.

Recent examples include Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) strategy which aims to combine storage, networking, and servers into a single architecture, as well as Hewlett-Packard's recent acquisition of networking vendor 3com and storage networking vendor Brocade's acquisition networking vendor Foundry Networks.

The acquisition of Tek-Tools is the first time SolarWinds moved outside of its core network management business, said Kenny Van Zant, senior vice president and chief product strategist at SolarWinds.

Adding storage management to its core business was an easy step for SolarWind to take, Van Zant said.

The market dynamics for Tek-Tools and SolarWinds are similar, as both face a couple of high-end competitors and a number of smaller competitors, Van Zant said.

Both are also targeting customers with IT infrastructure that is becoming increasingly virtual. "As a company virtualizes servers, they have to move storage to the network in order to be able to move virtual machines," he said.

The adoption of iSCSI as a SAN technology is also pushing the convergence of network and storage management, Van Zant said.

"Look at iSCSI," he said. "Storage is being pulled out of servers and onto the network. Customers tell us, you gotta give me visibility into that storage. We need a way to manage it all together."

With the acquisition, SolarWinds plans to keep both its Austin, Texas and Tek-Tools' Dallas offices, as well as its Czechoslovakia and Tek-Tools' India development offices.

For the time being, the two will be run as separate companies, with integration of the two happening over time. SolarWinds hopes to be able to integrate Tek-Tools' storage management technology into SolarWinds' network management technology by year-end, Van Zant said.

SolarWinds business model traditionally has been focused on selling its software over the Internet to technical users inside a company, Van Zant said. The company offers a 30-day free trial of its software.

However, about 30 percent of its sales go through indirect channels, with partners ranging from CDW to thousands of smaller companies worldwide, he said.

Tek-Tools also has a healthy direct business, but also does a good job of working with resellers, Van Zant said.

SolarWinds' channel sales have been growing over time, along with its direct sales, he said. "It's important that we have a strong channel," he said. "We don't want to put up barriers. Tek-Tools brings us some larger and deeper OEM and reseller relationships we hope to capitalize on."