DDN Acquires Nexenta, Aiming To Build 5G Infrastructure’s Software-Defined Foundation
Joseph F. Kovar
DDN, which in the past nine months acquired all-flash storage developer Tintri and the Lustre file system business of Intel, now wants to take advantage of Nexenta's pioneering software-defined storage technology to become a prominent part of the 5G business.
DataDirect Networks (DDN), a developer of high-performance storage for modern workloads including artificial intelligence and big data, on Monday unveiled plans to acquire Nexenta, one of the pioneer developers of software-defined storage technology.
With the acquisition, DDN is placing its stake in the fast-approaching 5G networking business, combining DDN's high performance computing technology, the high-performance all-flash storage business it got with last year's Tintri acquisition and Nexenta's software-defined storage technology, which is already in use by over 100 telcos worldwide.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Nexenta has some very robust capabilities related to file, block, and object storage technologies, said Kurt Kuckein, senior director of marketing at DDN.
"The emergence of 5G is important to DDN," Kuckein told CRN. "We see this intersecting with the emergence of [the Internet of Things]. IoT will take off with additional connectivity requirements, which will play well with DDN."
Tarkan Maner, chairman and CEO at Nexenta, said that DDN is approaching IT and 5G from a high-performance computing focus and with its Tintri high-performance all-flash storage focus, while Nexenta has over the last two years pushed heavily into the software-defined storage and networking businesses.
"Telcos and other companies, along with Google, [Amazon Web Services], containers, and so on are changing their infrastructures for software-defined technologies," Maner told CRN. "So who wins? Companies with strong software-defined technologies. Over the last two years, we've increased our presence with over 100 telcos worldwide. They're turning infrastructure upside-down, with commodity hardware, our software-defined storage, and other partners' software-defined networking."
5G will greatly increase the need for fatter and faster pipes to run artificial intelligence, IoT, and robotics workloads, and telcos will need new systems to support such workloads, Maner said. "Some of these workloads are reaching HPC (high performance computing) scale," he said.
Nexenta is DDN's third acquisition in the last 12 months. The company last September closed its acquisition of Tintri, a developer of high-performance all-flash storage technology with a strong play in virtualized environments. Tintri was one of the original all-flash array developers, but eventually ran into financial difficulties.
In June, the company acquired the Lustre file system business and related assets from Intel for an undisclosed sum as a way to improve the scalability of its storage offerings and its ability to service customers in high-performance computing, analytics, artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud.
DDN in 2017 also acquired Dotscience, a developer of technology related to the chain of custody around artificial intelligence.
"Going forward, we're looking at other intelligent opportunities to widen our scope with complementary technologies," Kuckein said. "With Nexenta, we are getting significant storage technology, but with little overlap with our existing business."
Nexenta, founded in 2005, was close to cash-flow break-even and could have reached that point, Maner said.
"We were the first and most famous software-defined storage company from the beginning," he said. "With DDN, our goal is to get profitable in months, just like Tintri became profitable."
Nexenta, like DDN, has a strong channel focus, Maner said. "DDN gives us geographical reach and vertical reach to telcos around the world," he said.
Nexenta also has OEM relationships with some of the top systems companies in the industry including Dell EMC, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco, and Supermicro, as well as with Ericsson on its 5G business, Maner said. Some of those partners were investors in Nexenta.
"We've already talked with our partners," he said. "They want to grow with us. These OEMs have a lot of storage technologies. With DDN, we will in some ways compete with them. But the acquisition will create more business for the OEMs in the years to follow."
Going forward, Nexenta will continue to run as a stand-alone company and be known as Nexenta by DDN, with Maner as its CEO. However, Maner said, DDN and Nexenta over the next 12 months will start cross-pollenating their technologies.
"We have strength in block, file, and object storage, with scale-up and scale-out storage, and with cloud-native workloads," he said. "We believe this creates a massive opportunity for both companies."