WD's HGST buys Amplidata

First they bought Skyera, erstwhile all flash array startup. Now WD's HGST unit is buying Amplidata, a scale-out object storage software vendor. Is the world's largest disk drive vendor moving into the storage systems business or not?

For those coming in late, HGST is the mashup of Hitachi's former disk business with IBM's former disk business. Western Digital bought HGST a couple of years ago, and is keeping the respected HGST brand alive.

Skyera was a late-entry into the all-flash array market that HGST bought last year. While it wasn't clear if Skyera had shipped a v1.0 product, the buy was surprising because, traditionally, drive vendors have not competed with their storage system customers.

But the reasons for that traditional non-compete stance are fading. All major drive buyers want a 2nd source, but with only 2.5 drive vendors - WD, Seagate and Toshiba - drive buyers can't threaten to walk away.

How does Amplidata, a Belgian object storage software company that I've done work for, fit with HGST's plans? Object storage is optimized for large data stores - 500TB and up - where disk drives will be the storage medium of choice.

HGST has publicly stated their intent to enter the active archive market where Amplidata is a great fit. But how far will they go?

The could package up an HGST-branded archive product. They could offer an unbranded version for resellers. Or they could simply offer the software.

The Storage Bits take

Both WD and Seagate have enjoyed great success with their branded consumer storage products. It's looking like WD would like to extend their reach into the enterprise with the Skyera and Amplidata acquisitions.

The critical issue is how the products get sold to enterprises. HGST has no enterprise sales force and they are expensive to hire.

I'm betting that they will use resellers and service providers to reach the market. When they make a product announcement we'll see if WD has finally broken the long time taboo against competing with customers.

Comments welcome as always. The storage market keeps getting more interesting.

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