Storage Station

A bird's eye view of the data storage industry.

Billion-dollar Bidding War Over 3PAR Will Be Cool to Watch

The budding bidding war between IT hardware/software powers Dell and Hewlett-Packard for the hand of 3PAR will be interesting to watch.

If it's anything resembling EMC versus NetApp for Data Domain a year ago -- in which EMC shelled out $2.3 billion for the deduplication master -- it will certainly make for scintillating news coverage.

Dell, on Aug. 16, offered $1.15 billion, or about $18 per share. HP countered with $1.6 billion, or $24 per share.

HP says its offer is clear cash and that its board of directors already has approved. Dell has been quiet on Aug. 23, but we expect that to change soon.

Fremont, Calif.-based 3PAR originally made its reputation by delivering a scalable, dependable thin-provisioning feature. It is a hot storage property because its clustered architecture is tailor-made for cloud systems that deliver software as a service. And cloud storage is "where it's at" today.

The question posed by The Station, however, is this: What took everybody so long?

3PAR, which went public in November 2007, has been putting excellent products out there and servicing them as well as anybody during the last several years. This is one of those second-generation storage companies that looked carefully at what was in the market, saw the bottlenecks in the older systems, and solved those problems with all-new -- we daresay ingenious -- ideas that lept ahead of most conventional suppliers.

It's that 3PAR was sort of under the radar for a lot of potential enterprise storage customers, with all the big guys like EMC, HP, Dell, IBM, NetApp and others getting more market, analyst and media attention. There's no doubt, however, that those "in the know" knew that this was going to happen sooner or later.

The Station thinks that a key piece of the storage puzzle recently added by 3PAR -- announced only five and half months ago -- was the factor that pushed the acquisition into reality.

Back in March, 3PAR added its own brand of autonomic storage tiering, called Adaptive Optimization. This, plus the current 3PAR catalog and its list of dedicated customers, is apparently what made Dell and HP act.

IBM championed the concept of autonomic computing for about a decade. Autonomic computing is a self-management mechanism for a system or systems that can make preprogrammed "decisions" for themselves to solve problems -- then solve them very quickly -- to keep the data center operational.

At its optimum, the process actually prevents problems from happening in the first place through a combination of business and operational intelligence, gained by a constant collection of data. 3PAR's version anticipates data blockages and solves them before they happen. Valuable for any system, we'd say.

3PAR Adaptive Optimization follows this concept to enable high-end-type storage systems to achieve an efficient distribution of data over the application lifecycle -- without needing intervention by an administrator.

The software intelligently monitors subvolume level performance, then applies user-created policies that autonomically and nondisruptively rebalance a workload across tiers to continually and flexibly meet changing application demands, 3PAR Vice President of Marketing Craig Nunes told eWEEK.

There's more to be written about this deal, which could be one of the most pivotal storage transactions of the year. We'll stay on it here at The Station.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...