Storage industry veteran NetApp today announced it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire scale-out all-flash storage maker SolidFire, for $870 million in cash.
Founded in 2010, SolidFire has focused on the service provider market, building a high-performance, multi-tenancy system with strong quality-of-service features. The company has enjoyed significant success, and is well regarded in the industry.
SolidFire has taken in just over $150 million in funding, with the latest round in October 2014, according to Crunchbase.com. A purchase price of $870 million values the company at just over a quarter of all-flash competitor Pure Storage that publicly listed in October.
NetApp has struggled with flash to date, having decided to build its own all-flash solutions. An all-flash array, the EF540, based on the SANtricity software acquired from Ingenio, was announced in late 2013. An all-flash version of their flagship DataONTAP based FAS arrays was released in 2014, while the much-delayed FlashRay product finally made it to market in late 2014 as well.
The FlashRay product reportedly struggled before being significantly refreshed in June 2015 to become more price competitive.
The SolidFire product is strong with service providers, and cloud style infrastructure buyers, a market NetApp is keen to appeal to. NetApp’s existing flash portfolio doesn’t really match the workloads for these customers all that well, so the SolidFire acquisition fills a hole in NetApp’s portfolio.
NetApp’s George Kurian is quoted in the SolidFire press release as saying “SolidFire combines the performance and economics of all-flash storage with a webscale architecture that radically simplifies data center operations and enables rapid deployments of new applications.”
High end enterprise customers that run a multi-tenant, service provider style IT team internally are likely to find the SolidFire offering attractive, and combined with NetApp’s sales and distribution scale, it should sell well.
The trick now will be to integrate the SolidFire offerings into the wider NetApp ecosystem without losing the aspects of SolidFire that existing customers have come to know and love.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.