EMC Acquires Scale-Out NAS Maker Isilon for $2.25 Billion

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-11-15 Print this article Print

UPDATED: EMC plans to pair up Isilon's NAS file system with its object-oriented storage division, EMC Atmos, to provide a new, high-level platform for private cloud systems.

EMC is preparing to launch yet another potential $1 billion-per-year business inside its already expansive corporate kingdom.

In a deal that was hardly a secret within the industry, the world's largest independent storage hardware/software maker on Nov. 15 announced it is acquiring Seattle-based network-attached storage (NAS) provider Isilon Systems for $2.25 billion, or $33.85 per stock share, in cash.

EMC, which brings in $14 billion per year and has $7 billion in cash on hand, said the transaction is expected to be completed late this year and "is not expected to have a material impact" on its 2010 net worth. 

The company's stock price was flat at about $21.50 per share on Nov. 15.
Isilon made its early reputation by making storage arrays that can easily be clustered to multiply data storage processing power for large-scale workloads. In the last two years, however, the company has increased its market scope by selling smaller, iSCSI-based systems that can be used by corporate remote offices and midrange-size companies.

EMC plans to pair up Isilon's NAS file system with its object-oriented storage division, EMC Atmos, to provide a new, high-level platform for companies planning to build private cloud systems to process globally distributed workloads.

EMC claimed that the combination of Isilon and Atmos will provide its customers with "a complete storage infrastructure solution for managing 'Big Data' in private or public cloud environments."

The pairing of the two approaches to storage technology into one package will offer new options for IT managers to handle scale-out workloads that contain both structured (database) and unstructured (object-oriented) data sets.

The Hopkinton, Mass.-based corporation said its expects the combined revenue of these two highly complementary storage offerings to reach a $1 billion run rate during the second half of 2012. 

EMC has reached the $1 billion-or-more-in-new-business level with several of its acquisitions during the last decade, including RSA Security, VMware, Avamar and Data Domain.

Isilon systems can start small, grow incrementally

Isilon's scale-out NAS storage racks can begin as small (less than 100TB) installations and scale up to 10PB yet maintain all their high-availability features without being disruptive to the rest of the system.

"EMC brings unique value to Isilon through our highly complementary portfolio, engineering depth, financial strength and global sales reach," EMC President and COO Pat Gelsinger said.

"Isilon will enable EMC to accelerate our storage revenue growth and serve our customers across a broader range of the storage systems market. EMC will invest in all aspects of Isilon's business to accelerate growth and take advantage of the fast-growing market opportunity ahead."

Technology Business Research storage analyst Greg Richardson wrote in an advisory to eWEEK that the acquisition will "open new doors to expansion in high-growth vertical markets" for EMC.

"We believe this will ... better position EMC against competitors that maintain large, vertical-centric solutions businesses, such as IBM, Fujitsu and, increasingly, Dell," Richardson said. "Additionally, Isilon's ability to scale up and down enables the company to continuously align storage capabilities with changing demand, making the solution a strong component of the cloud.

"As a result, EMC will add another arrow in its quiver to drive the adoption of public and private cloud infrastructures."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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