IBM to Buy Cleversafe, Take Object Storage to the Cloud

With its planned Cleversafe buy, IBM will help you tackle unstructured data volumes with object-based storage solutions for on-prem and hybrid cloud.

engineering pay

IBM announced plans to acquire Cleversafe, a provider of object-based storage software and appliances.

Big Blue today signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Chicago-based company, which IBM will integrate into its IBM Cloud business unit to provide customers with data flexibility, simplified management and consistency with on-premise, cloud, and hybrid cloud deployment options.

The deal is expected to strengthen IBM's positions in storage and hybrid cloud and support its effort to drive customers to next-generation mobile, social and analytics applications. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Today a massive digital transformation is underway as organizations increasingly turn to cloud computing for innovative ways to manage more complex business operations and increasing volumes of data in a secure and effective way," said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM Cloud, in a statement. "Cleversafe, a pioneer in object storage, will add to our efforts to help clients overcome these challenges by extending and strengthening our cloud storage strategy, as well as our portfolio."

Indeed, businesses in the process of transforming their digital operations face new challenges, including the rapid growth of unstructured data—images, audio, and video—and finding the proper balance between on-premise and cloud storage deployments. The emergence of new storage technologies, such as object storage delivered through Cleversafe, enables companies to store and manage massive amounts of data more efficiently while meeting the demands of data-intensive workloads delivered via the cloud. IDC estimates that 80 percent of new cloud applications are predicted to be big-data intensive.

Founded in 2004, privately held Cleversafe has been recognized as a market leader in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Object-Based Storage 2014 Vendor Assessment report. With more than 350 patents in object-based, on-premise storage solutions that enable users to scale to exabytes of storage, or billions of gigabytes. Clients across multiple industries use Cleversafe for large-scale content repository, backup, archive, collaboration and storage as a service, IBM said.

"IBM is an innovator and leader in cloud and storage and we're excited about the opportunities that lay ahead once this transaction closes," said John Morris, president and CEO of Cleversafe, in a statement. "Together with IBM, we can extend our object storage leadership position to address the broadest set of workloads for clients with the most expansive set of object-based solutions."

Cleversafe's Dispersed Storage Network (dsNet) solutions enhance on-premise storage options for enterprises and service providers with low-cost, large-scale active archives and unstructured data content stores. IBM said the solutions complement IBM's software-defined Spectrum Storage portfolio for data protection and backup, tape archive, as well as a high-performance file and object solutions where the focus is on response time.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said he believes the Cleversafe acquisition enriches IBM in a few ways.

"First, it significantly expands the company's solution portfolio in object storage," King said. "That's an especially hot technology in industries like media, entertainment and health care, where purchases are often measured in the hundreds of terabytes and petabyte deals are not unheard of. Secondly, IDC has placed Cleversafe at or near the top of the object storage market in terms of share, meaning that IBM is acquiring a company with a strong presence and solid customer base. Finally, adding Cleversafe solutions to its SoftLayer cloud portfolio should allow IBM to compete more effectively against public cloud players, including Amazon and Microsoft. So overall, it should be a deal that enriches IBM and impacts its customers positively."

IBM officials said the dsNet solutions and technologies will be integrated into the IBM Cloud to enhance IBM's SoftLayer infrastructure-as-a-service and the SoftLayer Object Storage services platform. This will provide users with a hybrid cloud deployment model that offers then choice of geography, performance, cost optimization and flexibility.

Moreover, following the close of the deal, IBM's customers will be able to use SoftLayer cloud services and IBM Bluemix, the company's platform-as-a-service offering, to create applications with the Cleversafe technology as a foundational content repository and data archive.

The planned acquisition underscores IBM's commitment to data storage innovation, including investments across flash, software-defined storage and cloud storage environments over the last five years alone, IBM said.

IBM has a knack for making acquisitions that help fill in holes that exist in its platform. This year alone, IBM has acquired at least six companies that help flesh out the IBM portfolio of applications, systems and services the company delivers to its customers.

Just last week IBM announced plans to acquire Meteorix. And last month, IBM announced its acquisition of StrongLoop, a Node.js development shop. In July, IBM acquired Compose, a privately held company that provides MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, and other database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offerings targeted at Web and mobile app developers. In June, IBM acquired Blue Box Group, a managed private cloud provider built on OpenStack. In April, IBM acquired Explorys and Phytel to enhance Big Blue's Watson Health unit. And in March, IBM acquired AlchemyAPI, a provider of scalable cognitive computing API services and deep learning technology.