February 26, 2010
-- In a deal that flew under the radar, SGI announced this week that it has purchased what is left of defunct virtual tape library (VTL) vendor Copan Systems for a price of about $2 million – that's right – $2 million.
SGI gobbled up Copan's assets in a private foreclosure sale from Copan's secured creditors. SGI did not assume any debt of Copan in the acquisition and assumed a limited number of liabilities.
Copan's claim to fame was its energy-efficient Enterprise MAID
(Massive Array of Idle Disks) technology for long-term storage of persistent data and its ability to power down disk drives when not in use.
"In my mind, they were a bit of a one-trick pony in that they had a purpose-built platform that incorporated MAID with drive spin-down," says Forrester Research senior analyst Andrew Reichman.
According to Reichman's research, the power benefits didn't match to cost of the system.
"It didn't take off because the power cost of 100TB of storage is about 1% of acquiring that 100TB. It's a drop in the bucket," he says. "What's more, most of the data center buyers are different than the facilities team and therefore don't pay the power bill. That put a barrier in place."
The surprising piece of this puzzle is the price tag. Two million seems a bit low for a company that raised more than $100 million in five rounds of funding, the most recent of which came about a year ago. That's a lot of money lost for Copan's investors.
Reichman believes SGI bought Copan at a bargain basement price in the hopes of using the technology down the line.
Copan's offices in Longmont, Colo., will be retained, and SGI "intends to hire select Copan employees," according to the company.
Reichman thinks Copan customers should start thinking about migrating their data.
"I've talked to customers and, not surprisingly, they're concerned. It's a bad situation to be in. I hate to leave gear with usable life on the table, but my message to [users] is to start with a migration plan now to move off of the [platform]," he says.
SGI's CEO, Mark J. Barrenechea, outlined its plans for the Copan technology earlier this week in a letter to customers on the SGI website
. Barrenechea wrote:
"The Copan assets will allow us to provide our customers access to Copan's approach to data backup, recovery, and active archive. Copan products are based on an Enterprise MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks) platform, which is ideally suited of solutions like Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL), Disk-to-Disk (D2D) backup
and HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management). When integrated into the SGI InfiniteStorage Total Control Suite with software like DMF and LiveArc, as well as our high performance NAS, SAN and bulk storage solutions, SGI has increased the ability of our customers to fully exploit the value of their data."
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