8 Storage Companies Cisco Should Buy (And 1 It Shouldn't)

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CEO: George Kurian

Market Cap: $7.28 billion

"The big earth-shattering move to really stay relevant and make sure customers know and remember Cisco as more than just networking -- especially in the shadows of the Dell-EMCs, the HPEs, the Oracles -- is NetApp," said Greg Schulz, senior analyst at StorageIO, a Stillwater, Minn.-based research firm.

Although the possible acquisition of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp has been discussed for years, Schulz said, now is the right time for Cisco to pounce. "Why now?" he said. "In the past, NetApp was flying a lot higher than they are today, hence their valuation, the premium, what they're worth, what they want -- a lot of those dimensions have changed."

For its most recent quarterly earnings, NetApp reported a 10 percent drop in revenues year over year. NetApp also closed its acquisition of flash storage startup SolidFire this year for $870 million.

"SolidFire is used by many cloud providers, so the technology works in large environments," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at Westminster, Mass.-based ZK Research.  "They also have some automation capabilities, so would fit into Cisco's ACI [Application Centric Infrastructure] framework."

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