Hitachi Data System Snatches Up Blue Arc

By Nicole Hemsoth

September 7, 2011

Today Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) announced that it acquired Blue Arc Corporation, a network attached storage (NAS) vendor to bolster its efforts to cater to the growing big data market.

This move marks the end of a roller coaster ride for Blue Arc, which filed for IPO twice, the second time just a few months ago.

The reasons behind the acquisition are not too difficult to delineate. As a NAS vendor that specializes in the storage and management of unstructured data, which Hitachi calls “the fastest growing segment of the storage market” having this notch in their belt bolsters their profile for an increasingly large base of potential customers.

This is particularly the case on the big data front because Blue Arc uses a scalable file system that permits the use of myriad storage appliances to be managed as a single unit. This emphasis on handling these variable demands as well as pools of unstructured content—a valuable commodity to enterprises who are equipped to deal with it—could significantly strengthen Hitachi’s profile for big data customers.

Steve Duplessie from Enterprise Strategy Group write today that, “HDS sells huge stuff to huge shops, some of the biggest on the planet,  but they really only sell block. BlueArc, running at about $100M in revenue, sells huge NAS stuff to big shops who need big things – and need them fast.  They are not a bulk provider any more than HDS is – if you have an app that needs outrageous (fill in the blank – performance, throughput, uptime, etc.) and it’s ‘at scale’ then you need one of these guys. Thus, the marriage is logical.”

Jack Domme, CEO, Hitachi Data Systems said in a statement today that “The exponential growth of digital content, particularly unstructured content, has had a dramatic effect on all businesses, including the requirements on IT.”

Domme continued, noting that “Over the past 5 years, BlueArc has been an integral part of our strategy to help customers store and manage unstructured data of all types, such as video, email, medical imaging, scientific data and more. Bringing BlueArc into the Hitachi family will enable us to better serve customers with more tightly integrated technologies, broader capabilities and deeper expertise globally. Our combined efforts will deliver cost-effective infrastructure cloud and content cloud solutions that customers can take advantage of as they look to further transform their data centers.”

This also marks another chapter in the saga of storage acquisitions that has picked up steam over the last year. Companies like HP, EMC and Dell have scrambled for vendors like 3PAR and Isilon to the tune of billions. While the exact monetary deals were not released today, the acquisition was made in cash—leading to one wonder just how much a company that some thought might not weather the storm is really worth.

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