By Ann Silverthorn
—Network Appliance has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Topio for approximately $160 million in an all-cash transaction. The integration of Topio's software and NetApp's data management solutions will enable enterprises to replicate production data from any vendor's disk arrays—including those from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi Data Systems—to any NetApp storage system.
The Topio Data Protection Suite helps users replicate and recover data from any server or storage infrastructure over any distance. Topio has been a NetApp Strategic Partner for the past year, and the integration of the two companies' technologies is complete, according to Patrick Rogers, Network Appliance's vice president of products and partners. Rogers says NetApp will be putting Topio's product on its price list as soon as the acquisition closes in December.
"Topio's data replication solution will enable us to bring our NearStore and FAS systems to play in existing installed-base production environments," says Rogers. "In the past, users were often captive to the replication solution provided by their primary storage vendor. We'll give them a choice. They'll be able to implement what we believe will be much more cost-effective disaster-recovery solutions using NetApp technology as the target rather than, say, another DMX system from EMC."
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO, an IT infrastructure technology analyst and consulting firm, says the acquisition of Topio will help NetApp expand into other markets.
"Historically, NetApp has been in the NAS market, but more recently the company has been moving up market, down market, and sideways into high-performance cluster computing as well as other markets supporting both block and file I/O," says Schulz. "NetApp has been doing tiered storage for years and now is extending that with its primary storage, vaulting, and virtual tape libraries."
NetApp is aware that it needs to expand its technology across multiple vendors' systems, rather than just its own, and the acquisitions it has made over the past few years—such as Spinnaker, Alacritus, and Decru—reflect this awareness.
"Alacritus' software [now NetApp's NearStore VTL] offered the ability to deliver disk-based backup solutions for any vendors' primary storage," says NetApp's Rogers. "Topio's technology is analogous in that we now have disaster recovery and replication for any vendors' primary storage."
Rogers says NetApp's strategy for the future will be to simplify operations in the data center, easing the burden on administrators and allowing them to use their storage more efficiently by implementing a service-oriented architecture. He says NetApp's acquisitions will help enable grid, or storage utility, designs.
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