StorageCraft Acquires Exablox, Expands From Its Traditional Data Protection Focus Into Primary Storage

Data protection software developer StorageCraft Thursday marked its entry into the primary storage market with the acquisition of Exablox, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of scale-out, object-based storage appliances.

With the acquisition, StorageCraft will become a provider of both primary and secondary storage to channel partners, said Matt Medeiros, CEO of the Draper, Utah-based company.

Exablox develops flash-based and hard disk-based scale-out NAS storage offerings based on its own OneBlox architecture, which allows multiple appliances to scale from a few terabytes to almost 700 TB of raw data, all with zero configuration and no application downtime.

[Related: StorageCraft Unveils Cloud-To-Cloud Data Protection Solution]

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Exablox's latest offering is the all-flash OneBlox 5210. Introduced last fall, the OneBlox 5210 is a full-featured scale-out storage offering that combines distributed object storage with high-performance flash for virtual environments and unstructured data. It achieves 50,000 IOPS per node and scales to more than 700 TB per cluster, with a price of less than 50 cents per effective gigabyte. The OneBlox 5210 is managed from the company’s cloud-based management service, OneSystem.

StorageCraft has had a great 13-year run of selling data protection software via the channel and a handful of OEM partners, Medeiros told CRN.

"But partners have been telling us, 'Help us with a complete solution,'" he said. "[Exablox CEO] Doug Brockett told us that we could do it, either as an OEM or together as a company. We vetted the idea of an acquisition with our partner advisory board, and they felt this was a great opportunity for us."

StorageCraft and Exablox are no strangers to each other. The two companies in October unveiled a technology relationship under which the Exablox OneBlox offerings could be bundled with StorageCraft's ShadowProtect data protection and recovery software.

"We had several partners already putting together Exablox and StorageCraft solutions in the last several months," Medeiros said. "We saw an opportunity to optimize the solution if we came together. Over time, we also see an opportunity for hyper-converged infrastructure solutions combining primary and secondary storage."

StorageCraft will continue to offer its StorageCraft software and Exablox hardware as stand-alone offerings, he said.

StorageCraft already sells its software to be bundled with other storage vendors' solutions, but that business will not be impacted by its acquisition of Exablox, Medeiros said. "Our OEMs provide BDR [backup and disaster recovery] solutions, but Exablox is selling products into the primary and secondary storage market," he said.

The acquisition of Exablox, along with the acquisition last fall of the intelligent recovery and data access solutions of Gillware Data Services, gives StorageCraft a solid footprint in the full gamut of data protection and services, Medeiros said.

"Our legacy was image-based backups," he said. "Last year, we acquired Gillware for file-based backups. Exablox brings us object storage. It's important for us to address all types of data."

It is indeed very important, said Steve Riat, sales manager at Nex-Tech, a Lenora, Kan.-based solution provider and member of StorageCraft's partner advisory board.

The acquisition is very much in line with Medeiros' vision for StorageCraft based around the idea that all data is not created equal but must be handled properly, Riat told CRN.

"From our standpoint, StorageCraft has to grow its portfolio, or ultimately our hands are tied as a partner," he said. "We have multi-tiered solutions based on customer needs. StorageCraft now gives us an opportunity to offer a wide range of storage technology from a single vendor for some customers. That's very valuable. And as we grow with a provider like StorageCraft, we get more comfortable with how to buy it, train with it, and so on."

StorageCraft has been a good channel-friendly vendor, Riat said. This is especially true as the vendor has in the past few months expanded its partner-centric dashboard to manage all partner-related activities including purchasing, support and deal registration, he said.

"Also, StorageCraft used to look to sign up every partner it could," he said. "Now it's offering the ability for certain partners to go deep with it."

StorageCraft has a good record when it comes to integrating acquisitions, even though it sometimes appears to be a bit slow, Riat said. "But I'm not sure what all's being done on the back end," he said. "We've done our own acquisitions in the past, and I could probably say the same thing about us."

Medeiros declined to discuss Exablox's finances or the cost of the acquisition in detail. However, he said, both companies in the last quarter reported record revenue, and have continued to expand their investments.

"Exablox is in a situation where it's trying to grow the market," he said. "It's in the investment phase. Hopefully it will be able to take advantage of the opportunity presented by StorageCraft."

StorageCraft has about 8,000 channel partners worldwide, while Exablox has about 1,000 partners, Medeiros said. About 200 of StorageCraft's Platinum-level and Gold-level partners also partner with Exablox, he said. "It's a very good part of our business," he said.

The acquisition also lets StorageCraft beef up its executive team, Medeiros said.

Brockett will take the reins as StorageCraft's new president, a role that Medeiros has held in addition to that of CEO. "Doug is deep in the technology," he said. "I can't think of anyone better to lead the company."

Shridar Subramanian, chief revenue officer and vice president of marketing at Exablox, will become StorageCraft's vice president of marketing. He will take over from Curt James, co-founder and vice president of marketing at StorageCraft.

Ramesh Iyer Balan, vice president of Exablox's engineering, will take over as StorageCraft's new vice president of engineering. He will replace Scott Barnes, co-founder and current CTO of StorageCraft.

Both James and Barnes had earlier said they would be retiring from StorageCraft, but they will remain on the company's board of directors, Medeiros said.

Jawaad Tariq, vice president of engineering at StorageCraft, will retain that role with a focus on developing StorageCraft's legacy offerings, he said.