Microsoft to Acquire Avere Systems for Cloud HPC Storage

Avere Systems, already a Microsoft partner, may help Azure's reach into the burgeoning market for cloud-based HPC solutions.

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Coming off a year of cloud- and artificial intelligence-inspired acquisitions, Microsoft is kicking off 2018 by snapping up Pittsburgh-based Avere Systems, strengthening the Redmond, Wash., technology giant's portfolio of high-performance computing (HPC) and storage services.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Avere Systems specializes in NFS (Network File System) and SMB (Server Message Block) file storage for data center, cloud and HPC workloads, of both the Linux and Windows variety. The deal comes just weeks after the company launched its flagship FXT Edge filer appliance (FXT 5850) on Dec. 12, allowing businesses to scale their NAS (network-attached storage) operations to the cloud and consolidate management.

"Avere's cloud solutions provide low-latency data access to datacenter storage resources, remote offices and the public cloud," remarked Ronald Bianchini Jr., president and CEO of Avere Systems, in a Jan. 3 announcement related to the acquisition. "Our customers efficiently share both storage and compute resources across multiple data centers, and effectively implement and use private and public cloud infrastructures."

This isn't the first time that the two companies have struck a deal.

In 2015, Microsoft and Avere formed a strategic partnership, enabling on-demand deployments of thousands of Azure HPC workloads using FXT Edge filers in the cloud. Customers can tap into Azure's massive infrastructure in a matter of minutes, allowing migration-free cloud processing of on-premises data with near-zero latency.

Now, as the software giant continues its expansion into the cloud HPC market, Microsoft is bringing Avere's know-how in-house. "By bringing together Avere's storage expertise with the power of Microsoft's cloud, customers will benefit from industry-leading innovations that enable the largest, most complex high-performance workloads to run in Microsoft Azure," blogged Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure.

Avere's customers include Sony Pictures' Imageworks, The Library of Congress and John Hopkins University. After the acquisition is closed, the Avere team will join Microsoft out of Pittsburgh.

The Avere buy helps Microsoft's solidify its footing in the burgeoning market for cloud-based HPC services. Although demand has been historically tepid, it is expected to pick up in 2018 and beyond.

HPC centers are well-oiled machines, running at over 90 percent utilization. Essentially, they are experts at getting the most out of their IT investments, thereby negating many of the cost-cutting benefits espoused by cloud companies, Univa CEO Gary Tyreman recently explained to eWEEK's Chris Preimesberger.

That's set to change in 2018 as cloud providers become experts at satisfying HPC users' "insatiable appetite for computing power," that is. "It is now easy to tap cloud-based compute cycles opportunistically, economically and seamlessly," said the Navops executive.

Anticipating growing demand, Microsoft acquired HPC cloud vendor Cycle Computing in August 2017.

A charter member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Cycle Computing specialized in orchestration software that enables enterprises to run compute-intensive workloads on cloud infrastructures. In 2014, Microsoft bought GreenButton, a new Zealand-based startup whose Cloud Fabric service allowed subscribers to acquire practically unlimited processing power for their big data and HPC workloads.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...