Two New NetApp Acquisitions Bring NVMe Prowess, Converged Infrastructure Management, And Future Strength

NetApp on Wednesday unveiled two acquisitions it expects to help grow its already-growing converged infrastructure and cloud storage business.

The first was that of Immersive Partner Solutions, a Littleton, Colo.-based developer of software to validate multiple converged infrastructures through their lifecycles.

The second was that of PlexiStor, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of software that turns off-the-shelf servers into high-performance converged infrastructure offerings with persistent memory technologies.

[Related: CEO Says NetApp Will Soon Introduce Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Solution Based On All-Flash SolidFire Tech]

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The acquisitions were unveiled by NetApp CEO George Kurian during the company's fiscal fourth quarter 2017 financial analyst call.

Kurian said his company's all-flash FlexPod converged infrastructure sales in conjunction with partner Cisco, combined with the company's channel momentum, helped to strengthen its No. 2 position in the converged infrastructure market with a 44 percent year-over-year growth of FlexPod revenue, as reported by IDC for the fourth calendar quarter.

"We also recently acquired Immersive Partner Solutions, a cloud-based converged infrastructure monitoring, and compliance company," Kurian said. "We will integrate this intellectual property into our FlexPod solutions to help customers further simplify and automate lifecycle management and enhance our leadership in the converged infrastructure market."

NetApp is also leading the industry in the transition to flash with cloud-integrated solutions, Kurian said. The company's fourth-quarter all-flash array business grew nearly 140 percent year-over-year to an annualized run rate of $1.7 billion, he said.

"We have entered into an agreement to acquire PlexiStor, a company with technology and expertise in ultra-low latency persistent memory," he said. "This differentiated intellectual property will help us further accelerate our leadership position and capture new application types and emerging workloads."

No details were provided about the timing or the terms of either acquisition. Neither acquisition was announced before Kurian's comments.

NetApp is very smart with its acquisitions, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time NetApp channel partner.

PlexiStor is a powerful acquisition for NetApp because the entire industry is moving to adopt NVMe to take advantage of NVDIMM, 3D XPoint storage, and other technologies that make storage start to perform like memory, Woodall told CRN.

"Storage is starting to look like memory going forward thanks to NVMe," he said. "NVMe lets the host talk directly to flash media."

NetApp and other vendors have already started shipping storage featuring the NVMe storage protocol, Woodall said. However, PlexiStor brings NetApp the intellectual property to take NetApp into the future.

"PlexiStor has software that eliminates the flash abstraction layer to connect the host directly to flash," he said. "NVDIMM and 3D XPoint memory need NVMe to take advantage of their performance. Over time, all manufacturers will add more NVMe technology, and eventually move to adopt it for externally attached storage … NVMe will also eventually extend to fabrics."

Given that FlexPod is the only converged infrastructure that is seeing revenue growth, NetApp's acquisition of Immersive Partner Solutions is also important to NetApp, Woodall said.

"Immersive is the kind of toolset to let customers and partners more effectively manage their FlexPods," he said. "With converged infrastructure and hyper-converged infrastructure, you will see the need for tools to manage the stacks become more important."

The acquisitions, and the revenue growth enjoyed by NetApp in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2017, point out a spark that has been missing in NetApp for years, Woodall said.

"We're seeing an invigorated, growing NetApp," he said. "This is something that customers, partners, and even competitors have been looking for. A strong competitor makes everybody stronger."