IBM finally pulled the trigger April 18 and bought a storage company with powerful de-duplication software: privately held Diligent Technologies.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by either company, but a storage analyst who asked not to be named told eWEEK the cash price was in the $200 million range.
Diligent, headquartered in Framingham, Mass., with research and development located in Tel Aviv, Israel, will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group. It employs about 100 people.
Data de-duplication is a tool that eliminates redundant data throughout the storage network and makes the storage task more efficient, cost-effective and energy efficient within the network.
Diligent's in-line type of de-duplication software is specifically designed for high-end and high mid-range-size enterprise server and storage infrastructures, IBM Director of Mergers and Acquisitions Ari Kugler told eWEEK.
"Diligent's software is very portable and fits perfectly into our Tivoli tool set," Kugler said. "If we hadn't bought the company, our own architects would have eventually come up with similar de-dupe software at some point."
This is a strategic -- not simply a tactical -- move for IBM, Kugler said. "This will have a lot of future impact on all we do," Kugler said.
IBM Late to De-Duplication Game
Surprisingly, IBM currently has no specific storage de-duplication options for its customers in its catalog, preferring to contract out those services to partners. Diligent will be integrated immediately into Big Blue's VTL (virtual tape library) and mainframe storage products, Kugler said, with other deployments coming later.
IBM is behind the curve on adopting de-duplication for its storage products. Disk storage market leader EMC acquired Avamar in November 2006 and has been busy integrating that small company's de-duplicationware into many of its arrays and storage servers. Data Domain, NetApp, Fujitsu and Hitachi also have de-duplication built into many of their offerings.
Larger IBM competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems also are expected to acquire their own de-duplication technologies in short order. Sun, for example, already has an OEM relationship with FalconStor, which has a highly respected de-duplication technology of its own.
The deal had been rumored inside the business and among the bankers for about six weeks, Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman told eWEEK.
"I was wondering if perhaps the deal was called off," Slootman said. "Because of the way IBM operates, it is notoriously slow in making an acquisition. It was taking too long, it seemed. But apparently it finally came together."
Slootman, a longtime observer and decision-maker in the data storage and de-duplication space, said his take on the IBM-Diligent merger was that "this shows for certain how seriously important and strategic de-duplication is. It's not simply a 'nice feature' to have in your storage system anymore."
This is the third storage-related acquisition for IBM in the past few months. In January, IBM announced it had acquired Israeli-based XIV to address emerging storage opportunities such as Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media. Earlier this month, IBM announced its intent to acquire FilesX, a leading provider of continuous data protection software for mission-critical applications and remote offices.
The merger is expected to be completed in the next two months.