Hewlett Packard Enterprise Invests In Object Storage Developer Scality, Expands Global Relationship

Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Tuesday signified its commitment to object storage with an equity investment in Scality, and said it plans to work closely with the storage software vendor to develop and sell solutions including the Scality Ring software and HPE's Apollo server line.

Hewlett-Packard has had a long reseller relationship with San Francisco-based Scality, and in late 2014 the two signed a formal global reseller agreement.

The investment and the new reseller agreement came about because of a new commitment by Palo Alto, Calif.-based HPE to enhance its Scality partnership, said Patrick Osborne, senior director of product management for HPE storage.

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"We're moving to bring capacity-optimized object storage to customers," Osborne told CRN. "We're very enamored with the Scality technology, so we're taking a stake in the company. And we will do more to make Scality technology work better with our Apollo servers."

Neither Osborne nor Erwan Menard, president and CEO of Scality, would disclose the amount HPE invested in Scality, or how big an equity stake HPE has in the company.

However, Menard said, the HPE investment is part of a new D round of funding that brings total funding to $92 million.

"HPE is our one and only storage investor," Menard told CRN. "We're really happy to have HPE for a number of reasons. We have close to 100 customers worldwide, and HPE is the largest server vendor we work with. We have several dozen petabytes out on HPE servers, and HPE is well-positioned with its high-density server offerings."

HPE has had other object storage partners, including an OEM relationship with Cleversafe, a Chicago-based object storage technology developer. Cleversafe late last year was acquired by IBM.

Osborne said HPE's focus now is on Scality.

"We're providing the Scality solution on HPE's Apollo servers via both our storage channel and our server channel," he said. "These solutions are very large, and require tens of petabytes of capacity, and so they need a lot of storage expertise. We will offer the solution with the same channel mix as our storage business."

Neither Osborne nor Menard would speculate about whether HPE's investment in Scality was a prelude to an outright acquisition of the company.

Menard said Scality has a lot of business traction, and so is under no pressure to sell. "Now we're focusing on customer adoption," he said. "With our D round of funding, we're pressing our foot on the gas. HPE servers are the largest share in our market. But this investment does not mean we will see a drop in non-HPE-related business. Customers know we work with other server vendors. This is not an exclusive relationship."

At least one HPE channel partner told CRN that he thinks a marriage could be in store between the two vendors.

"Combining Scality Ring with HPE Apollo servers makes sense," said Dan Molina, chief technology officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HPE channel partner. "Who knows. Maybe in another year it becomes property of HPE."

Molina said he is not surprised to see HPE invest in Scality. "I think object storage is a technology that is starting to gain traction," he said. "These kinds of technologies take years to mature and to get people trained. Services providers have been leveraging it."

There is a growing need for object storage technology as things like big data, audio, picture and video files increase in size and number, Molina said.

"Enterprise customers need the right architecture to store this data," he said. "And Scality is the right architecture."

Nth Generation has been trained on Scality, but few of its customers have the scale to take advantage of it, Molina said. "But we have a lot of opportunities, and expect will have some business starting this year," he said.