SanDisk Eyes Enterprise Storage Market with $1.1B Fusion-io Buy

By Pedro Hernandez

Fusion-io, an early enterprise flash storage innovator from Salt Lake City, Utah, is being acquired by Milpitas, Calif.-based flash chip maker SanDisk.

The all-cash deal is valued at $1.1 billion, funds that SanDisk will draw from its balance sheet, the company announced. SanDisk is offering $11.25 per share of Fusion-io. As of this writing, Fusion-io's stock jumped 23 percent to hit $11.43.

With the buy, which the companies expect to close by September, SanDisk is branching further out from its consumer flash roots.

The deal will help "accelerate our efforts to enable the flash-transformed data center, helping companies better manage increasingly heavy data workloads at a lower total cost of ownership," said SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra in a statement. His company's customer, he asserts, will "benefit from the addition of Fusion-io's leading PCIe solutions to SanDisk's vertically integrated business model."

Satyam Vaghani, CTO co-founder of PernixData, a software-defined storage startup, lauded the deal. "The Fusion-io PCI flash technology is a perfect complement to SanDisk's existing SSD and UltraDIMM assets," he said to InfoStor in an email. The firm's Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP) virtualizes server-side flash, including PCIe caching cards, to accelerate applications and virtualized workloads.

"The move also indicates SanDisk's willingness to have a more direct presence in the enterprise space," observed Vaghani.

The news comes several days after Fusion-io debuted its latest line of PCIe SSDs, the high-performance Atomic Series. Comprised of eight models, the Atomic portfolio includes the ioMemory SX300 6400, which provides 6.4 GB of usable flash capacity.

Fusion-io made headlines in 2009 when it named legendary Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as the firm's Chief Scientist. Today, Shane Robison, CEO of Fusion-io, described the transaction as "a compelling opportunity for Fusion-io's employees, customers and shareholders."

"Fusion-io's innovative hardware and software solutions will be augmented by SanDisk's worldwide scale and vertical integration, enabling a combined company that can offer an even more compelling value proposition for customers and partners," added Robison in a statement.

SanDisk, best known for its flash memory cards and USB drives, has been the targeting the enterprise storage market with strategic buys during the past two years.

In 2012, the company acquired FlashSoft, a maker of solid-state drive (SSD) caching software, and Schooner Information Technology, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based memcached database acceleration specialist.

Last year, the company snapped up Newark, Calif.-based SMART Storage Systems, for $307 million. SMART was a maker of SATA and SAS SSDs for enterprise, industrial and defense applications and the first to offer a 19 nanometer SAS SSD, the Optimus Eco.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on June 16, 2014