EMC rounds out virtualization

By Ann Silverthorn

—This week, EMC announced acquisitions of two San Jose-based companies—Rainfinity and the intellectual property of Maranti Networks. According to a Baird US Equity Research report, the financial impact to EMC is "trivial" and will contribute limited revenue gains in the near future for the giant. Financial terms of the Rainfinity acquisition were not disclosed, but an EMC spokesperson confirmed that the price tag was "less than $100 million." Rumor has it that Maranti's assets went for approximately $5 million, although EMC officials declined to comment.

In May, EMC introduced its Invista platform for virtualizing SANs at the block level. However, the rapid growth of unstructured file-based information has end users looking for virtualization products for their NAS and file-system environments, in addition to virtualization for SANs. Rainfinity's RainStorage provides virtualization for file-based data, which is usually unstructured. The addition of the RainStorage product to EMC's NAS products, the NS700 and Celerra series, along with Invista give EMC the most comprehensive set of virtualization solutions in the industry, according to analysts.

EMC officials say that Rainfinity, founded in 1998, was attractive because its technology enables files to be dynamically relocated, whether Windows, Linux, or Unix. That allows IT administrators to optimize their NAS environments non-disruptively. Consolidation can occur while users still have access to their information.

Rainfinity's global namespace capabilities were also a selling point. Most users have a specified drive on the network to which they write. Typically that drive is assigned to a physical storage system. Many companies have hundreds of file servers, so if one drive is over-utilized, under-utilized, or needs to be updated, an IT administrator has to manage each drive individually. And during that time, users would not have access to their data. Global namespace masks the complexity and allows administrators to move data with no disruption to users or applications.

Rainfinity's primary competitors are Acopia (see Acopia enhances file virtualization ), NeoPath (see NeoPath boosts NFM performance), and NuView. Since last spring, EMC has been reselling Rainfinity's RainStorage product through its EMC Select Program. EMC has also been reselling NuView's StorageX product and will continue to sell it through the EMC Select Program.

Collectively, these vendors' technologies are sometimes referred to as network file management (NFM), although some vendors use the term "file, or NAS, virtualization."

Maranti had raised $57 million in venture capital funding since it was founded in 2000. Last month, it opted to look for a buyer rather than seek an additional round. EMC's not talking about what it will do with Maranti's assets, but some analysts predict that the intelligent switch manufacturer's technology will end up in the Invista platform.

According to International Data Corp. (IDC), EMC is the worldwide revenue leader in networked storage systems and also in storage software. EMC is also number one in NAS revenue, with a 37.9% revenue share in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC.

This article was originally published on August 19, 2005