So SGI has bought Copan Systems. Who?
Copan was the leader, or at least the initiator, of the MAID storage market, but has found itself acquired for just $2 million. Not a lot.
MAID is one way of saving on your storage energy bill. More popular storage technogies are deduplication and thin provisioning, both of which allow you to store more in your current storage infrastructure. On paper at least, MAID goes one better: it turns off the disks altogether, leaving you with a minimal electricity bill as the disks are no longer spinning.
Naturally enough, this isn't the kind of storage you'd use in a production environment. Rather, it's been seen as a third or fourth tier storage technique, used mainly to replace tape-based deep archives. Here, access time is hardly an issue. It can take days to get a tape retrieved from secure storage while spinning up a bank of disks takes only a minute at most.
Copan's problem was that it attracted lots of investor cash and spent a lot on R&D but couldn't sell enough gear. Its Revolution storage arrays were densely packed, so they were heavy and, according to one report, this lost it a lot of orders because it exceeded the floor loadings of a number of datacentre belonging to prospective customers.
And the MAID market never took off in the way that the investors and a number of analysts predicted. Instead, it was easier to convince IT storage managers to invest in technology that crammed more data into existing kit than in new, untried technologies that could be both expensive and inflexible.
The result of the SGI buyout is that very few investors will get their money back: in corporate terms, two million dollars is close to nothing. SGI gets the brand and will, presumably, spend some money upgrading the systems to meet the challenge of competitors. Chief among these is Nexsan, which unlike Copan is now selling products containing MAID 2.0 technology, which includes several configurable levels of spin-down and therefore energy saving.
Can SGI spark up this market? We'll have to wait and see.