EMC Isilon Acquires Likewise In Cross-Platform Storage Play

The Likewise acquisition was unveiled on the same day EMC introduced its acquisition of Pivotal Labs, a software developer which will be involved in EMC's open-source Greenplum Chorus big data collaboration platform.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Likewise has two primary focuses.

[Related: EMC Buys Isilon To Fortify High-End NAS Line ]

The first, Likewise Storage Services provides a "multiprotocol, identity-aware platform for network access to files used in OEM storage products built on Linux- and Unix-based devices," according to the company's Web site. This platform can be used for traditional NAS, cloud gateway, and cloud caching device for providing secure access to files across a network.

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The second, Likewise Data Analytics and Governance, works in mixed networks to provide security, storage, analysis, and auditing of unstructured data.

EMC's Isilon storage division was formed as a result of EMC's 2010 acquisition of Isilon, a premier developer of scale-out NAS technology.

One of the main reasons for acquiring Likewise was its development of the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol, also known as CIFS (Common Internet File System), said Chris Blessington, senior director of communications for EMC's Isilon storage division.

SMB provides shared access to communications between nodes on a network, including files, printers, and serial ports.

Likewise has been collaborating with several technology providers to provide its customers with integrated solutions. Those technology providers include Isilon as well as several EMC competitors such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM, and NetApp.

Isilon decided to acquire Likewise instead of continuing its partnership because it believes the SMB protocol is an important part of its business going forward, Blessington said.

"Likewise will become an important part of our engineering team," Blessington said. "It will focus on the development of protocols mainly for the next generation of SMB."

Blessington said that EMC Isilon has contacted Likewise's current customers and partners to explain the acquisition and to assure them that it will fulfill existing contractual obligations.

However, he declined to say whether EMC Isilon would sign future contracts with its competitors. "The deal is so new, it's not a question we're prepared to respond to," he said.

Blessington also declined to discuss the cost of the acquisition.

Barry Crist, CEO of Likewise, wrote in an open letter to customers that his company has helped enterprises of all sizes "store and manage unstructured data across diverse computing platforms and environments," and that it expects to continue to do so as part of EMC Isilon.

"With the acquisition, the Likewise team will be joining the leader in all meaningful segments of the storage industry, including one that is very dear to us: unstructured data storage and management. EMC is a great family for ours to join, and I predict that many of the best times for the Likewise team are still ahead of us," Crist wrote.