NetApp to buy flash storage startup SolidFire for $US870m

The all-cash acquisition will give NetApp a line of products designed for Web-scale datacentres

NetApp is acquiring startup SolidFire for $US870 million cash for a foothold in the fast-growing market for scale-out flash storage.

SolidFire's all-flash systems will let enterprises take advantage of the scale and cost advantages enjoyed by Web-scale companies with distributed datacentre architectures, NetApp said. SolidFire, based in Boulder, Colorado, makes all-flash systems that can scale out to as much as 1.9 petabytes of capacity.

The deal is expected to close during NetApp's fiscal fourth quarter, ending in April. The startup's CEO, Dave Wright, will lead the SolidFire product team. SolidFire's products ultimately will be integrated into NetApp's data fabric strategy, allowing for data management across flash, disk and cloud, the company said.

Like other enterprise storage companies, NetApp has been under fire from Cloud services and from software-defined systems based on generic hardware. SolidFire is one of several hot young companies focused on this kind of technology, and other enterprise vendors including Cisco Systems reportedly had considered acquiring the company.

NetApp already makes all-flash systems, including the NetApp All Flash FAS line and EF Series. It will target SolidFire's products at customers building next-generation web-scale infrastructure based on so-called white-box hardware.

Flash storage, while more expensive per bit than hard disks, delivers data much faster while taking up less space and power. Scale-out architectures like SolidFire's are designed to give enterprises greater flexibility in building out datacentres and ultimately lowering their costs.

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Stephen Lawson

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