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StorCentric Continues Acquisition Binge With Vexata All-Flash Buy

StorCentric has now brought Drobo, Nexsan, Retrospect and Vexata together in a company that it says can leverage the strengths of their various technologies in combination with the channel to build a full-line storage vendor.

StorCentric Tuesday said it has made its fourth acquisition in under a year with the purchase of all-flash array vendor Vexata, a move that advances its goal of becoming a full-line storage vendor via technology acquisitions that work well together.

The acquisition of San Jose, Calif.-based Vexata for an undisclosed sum advances StorCentric's mission to manage and protect customer data, said Mihir Shah, CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.  

"Our vision is to unify various technologies to protect data from creation to sunset, harvest and erase," Shah told CRN. "In some cases we will partner with other providers, and in some cases we will acquire the technology."

[Related: StorCentric Exits Stealth With Acquisitions Of Drobo, Nexsan]  

Acquisitions have for now been the driver of StorCentric's growth.

StorCentric in August 2018 came out of stealth mode with the news that it had acquired two long-established storage vendors, Nexsan and Drobo.

Nexsan is a developer of midrange and enterprise storage and a pioneer in providing low-cost dense networked storage with its early development of its ATTABoy, ATTABeast, and SATABoy storage lines. The company also has a strong storage cloud connection with its Assureon Archive and Assureon Cloud Transfer technologies. Its most recent storage line, Unity, combined its NST unified storage platform with its Transporter enterprise file sync and share technology in an offering that allows business data to be used for easy sharing and collaboration from primary storage without the need to send the data over a cloud.

Drobo develops prosumer-focused and consumer-focused storage technology with attached cloud services and has a strong SMB business.

StorCentric last week also unveiled the acquisition of Retrospect, which develops data protection and recovery tools for consumers, prosumers and SMBs. Before that acquisition, ownership of Retrospect bounced among several owners, including Dantz, EMC, Sonic Solutions and others before being spun out as a stand-alone company.

Vexata expands StorCentric's reach into high-performance environments where all-flash storage is a requirement, as well as into the fastest-growing part of the storage business, Shah said.  

"Most of the data storage business is seeing high-single-digit growth," he said. "But the all-flash storage business is the fastest-growing part. Vexata blends nicely with that fast-growing storage base."

Surya Varanasi, co-founder and chief technology officer at Vexata, said that flash storage technology, when it first became available in around 2009, led to a huge boost in storage performance but that performance boost in the past few years has generally been more incremental as flash storage became commonly employed.

Vexata develops scalable NVMe flash storage with predictive analytics and autonomous decision capabilities to allow increased performance with no changes required in customer environments, Varanasi told CRN.  

"That is the critical part for us," he said. "There's no need to change customers' existing storage environments. No changes needed in the operating system or application stacks."

As a result, Vexata has attracted business from customers including a major credit card company, the Australian Department of Defense and Indian systems integrator Tata, he said.

Vexata will be tightly integrated with StorCentric's Nexsan business to combine Vexata's high-performance, scalable storage with Nexsan's data mobility and data protection capabilities, Shah said.

The acquisition is a good move for StorCentric, which has with its previous acquisitions proven to be a strong channel partner, said Bill Allen, consultant and chief technology officer at Westlake Technologies, a West Lake Village, Calif.-based solution provider that has worked with Nexsan since it was founded and continues to work closely with StorCentric.

Nexsan continues to be a strong product line with hybrid-flash and all-flash configurations that do well against other all-flash storage competitors in workloads where performance is not the only factor in success, Allen told CRN.

"I'm getting more and more customer interest in NVMe and all-flash," he said. "So this is the right move for them."  

Vexata will give solution providers the ability to leverage their existing customer base to provide high-performance flash storage without the need to go with a third-party vendor or change the customer’s infrastructure, Allen said.

"I have environments where the customer has up to 26 petabytes of Nexsan storage," he said. "So if I need the performance, I no longer have to break up the technology they use. Nexsan is a rock-solid technology, and StorCentric has proven it can take advantage of Nexsan's support to throw as many resources as needed at a customer to fix issues."  

While Vexata does indirect business outside the U.S., it has primarily used a direct sales model in the U.S., Shah said. However, that will change with Vexata's becoming part of StorCentric.

"Vexata will be able to leverage our channels," he said. "As a startup, it is difficult to get the attention of channel partners. Now Vexata can leverage the channel that Nexsan and Drobo built. Current Vexata customers who prefer to work directly with the company can continue to do so. But I anticipate more of its business going through channels going forward."  

Shah declined to discuss terms of the acquisition, and did not go into specifics about StorCentric's financial situation. He said Vexata, which had received about $59 million in investment before the acquisition, was not a profitable or cash-flow-positive company but is expected to be profitable in 2019. StorCentric's business as a whole is profitable, he said.

Shah also said to expect StorCentric to make further acquisitions going forward.  

"Acquisitions will be our primary driver for growth," he said. "It takes a tremendous amount of capital for startups to get to market. We believe the best investment for any company is in the channel. That's the leverage we get out of every investment dollar."

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